Patient Education


Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common health problems in the United States, and is a leading cause of disability and missed work.  Low back pain can be caused by a number of conditions, including disc herniation's, degeneration, and muscle strains, although many times, the exact cause cannot be determined.  Physical therapy is an effective treatment for decreasing pain, facilitating a return of function, and preventing recurrences.  Physical therapy for lower back pain may consist of exercises focusing on specific movements, stabilization exercises, flexibility work, manual therapy techniques, modalities for pain control, and patient education, focusing on proper ergonomics for home, work, and leisure activities.


Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common type of arthritis, and is caused by joint degeneration.  The protective coverings within the joints break down, causing the bones to rub together, which in turn leads to further breakdown, pain, and limited mobility. The knee and the hip are the most common joints to develop OA, although the spine and shoulder are also frequently affected.  Up to half of Americans will develop knee OA by age 85, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The pain and stiffness associated with OA often lead to decreased activity and disability.  Physical therapy can help to decrease the pain and functional limitations associated with OA.  PT for OA often focuses optimizing joint motion, increasing the strength of the muscles that help to support the joint, promoting activity, and decreasing pain through the use of appropriate modalities and manual techniques.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS, refers to pain in the front of the knee, generally around the kneecap.  PFP is usually caused by incorrect tracking of the kneecap in relation to the bony groove it sits within.  It typically results from overuse, particularly with activities that involve running, jumping, stair climbing, or frequent squatting.   Physical therapy is commonly recommended for PFPS.  PT for PFPS usually includes strengthening exercises, often aimed at the hip and quadriceps to improve leg alignment, and it may also include flexibility exercises, taping techniques, recommendations on bracing and footwear, and modalities to decrease pain.



Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can result from a variety of disorders, including rotator cuff tendon impingement and/or tears. labral injuries, arthritis, frozen shoulder, and bursitis.  Frequent causes include repetitive overhead use, falls onto an outstretched arm, and bony abnormalities.  Poor posture and strength deficits usually contribute, as well.  Physical therapy is an important part of the treatment plan for many causes of shoulder pain.  PT may include strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles, range of motion exercises, manual techniques such as joint and soft tissue mobilizations, modalities to decrease pain and inflammation, postural education, and sports-specific strengthening as appropriate.

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