Easing Pain With the Power of Physical Therapy

As we move throughout our daily lives, occasional aches and pains are an expected hiccup. Sometimes we can stretch our discomfort away or ease the edge with ibuprofen, but what about when pain refuses to be run off? What do you do when it becomes a chronic feature in life?

Methodist Hospital for Surgery urges you to consider one of the safest and most effective routes for pain management. Physical therapy (PT) can improve your mobility and range of motion and alleviate pain associated with injury, surgery and degenerative bone and joint diseases. In turn, it can eliminate the need for costly surgeries and reduce dependency on highly addictive opioids.

So ask yourself—could PT be your solution for chronic pain?

Will my pain respond to physical therapy? How do I know if it’s an ideal treatment for me?

PT has been proven to be effective for numerous types of pain, including back, hip, knee and shoulder pain. Joint pain of almost every kind benefits from this kind of treatment. For traumatic injury, such as muscular or ligament tears, or degenerative diseases, including osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease, PT can not just alleviate pain and improve mobility, it can eliminate the need for surgery.

How long do I have to participate in physical therapy for it to be effective?

The best PT programs are rooted in attentive, one-on-one care in which your therapist routinely re-evaluates your functional mobility. Because everyone who seeks PT has a unique performance goal, it is impossible to say how long your need for PT will last—your program may require one month or three. Instead, you and your therapist should work on developing a list of functional performance goals that will help determine when you can satisfactorily step away from PT.

Do I need a referral to get started with physical therapy?

We advise you to check with your insurance provider first and foremost, since they may require a referral or preauthorization. You should also consider specific state laws regarding the pursuit of PT. In Texas, you can request an initial screening without a referral or prescription, but ongoing treatment will require a medical diagnosis that warrants PT.

Take advantage of physical therapy’s proven power to heal. For more information and office locations, visit us online at


How Technology Affects Your Body

It’s no secret that we are inundated with technology everyday. The way we communicate with family members and loved ones, how we read our news, pay our bills, receive healthcare and go to work are all streamlined by technological advances.

While information is now readily available at our fingertips and we are more connected than ever, our bodies are prone to suffer from the adverse effects technology can have. Whether sitting too long at our desks, losing proper spinal alignment or not being active enough, it has become increasingly easy to develop poor habits and suffer from greater health risks.

Instead of accepting these conditions as the norm, there are many ways to help maintain your health and wellbeing and keep your body in check.

Ergonomic Accessories

There are numerous ergonomically friendly devices that can help prevent the onset of health issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomic keyboards, mouse pads and arm rests help keep resting posture correct and alleviate pressure on various points of the arm that may cause problems.

Standing Desks

One of this generation’s biggest health concerns is being stagnant or sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. Numerous studies have been conducted that show how detrimental this can be to multiple aspects of your health, so standing desks help counteract these effects. By standing, the body can circulate blood more freely and keep posture aligned. Many companies now offer standing options to help lower healthcare costs.

Lumbar-Supporting Chairs

Okay, so let’s assume you check with your company and can’t get a standing desk installed, another great option is a ergo and lumbar-supporting chair. These provide the support your body needs to maintain natural alignment and reduces “slouching” significantly. This also helps create natural tendencies to sit and move properly. Ultimately, if you’re going to have to sit, at least you’ll have proper alignment while doing so.

Wearable Fitness Trackers

Speaking of sitting too long, one of the biggest advancements in the health field is fitness trackers. Many wearable tech companies offer their own iteration that allow you to track and monitor how active you stay throughout the day. By keeping a close eye on activity level, you can help combat inactivity and get a bit of exercise along the way. So get up and get moving!

Staying Mindful

Alright, so this isn’t technology and not something you’re able to buy online, but it’s easy to do. When texting or browsing on your phone, sitting at a desk or table, or just using any type of technology, think about your neck, spine, arms and legs. If you’re staring down at your phone, your neck is in a vulnerable position, so raise your phone to stay more aligned. Sitting up straight or maintaining good posture allows us to develop good habits when we sit, stand, walk or run. Keep your legs bent or elevated appropriately. When you type, try your best to not rest your wrists on the keyboard or desk. The next time you find yourself slouching or when your back or neck starts feeling sore, correct your positioning. All of these are slight changes that can produce drastic results for your body.

We’re only provided one body in this lifetime, so we must do whatever we can to make sure it’s in the best condition. If you’re already suffering from orthopedic or spine issues, our specialists can help get you back on the fast track to healthy living!


More Than A Crick—Common Spinal Injuries In Sports

You’ve long doffed your winter coat and have already spent plenty of afternoons basking in the sun. At Methodist Hospital for Surgery, we certainly hope that your coming days are going to involve summer sports and weekend campouts, but we also want to know that you’re taking care along the way.

Specifically, as people become more active, especially in school or community athletic programs, our orthopedic specialists want to highlight some of the more common spinal injuries that can occur in these scenarios, along with how to prevent and treat them.

Because spinal injury should never be the reason for summer coming to a swift end.

Knowing When Things Are Out of Whack

Spine-related injuries common to sports is a lengthy topic, with a mile-long list of injuries one could sustain. But let’s shorten our focus to specific types of spinal injury and narrow it down to the top three: disc injury, pinched nerves—called stingers—and fractures.

  • Disc Injury: herniated or “slipped” discs can occur as a result of prolonged pressure throughout the spine; an individual disc can tear out of its normal position and begin pressing against the spinal column. This kind of pressure against the spine’s root nerves can cause numbness, pain, and tingling in the limbs. Treatment generally begins conservatively, with anti-inflammatories, ice, and rest, but may progress to bracing, physical therapy, and steroid injections depending on the injury’s severity.
  • Stingers: known clinically as a brachial plexus injury, stingers are common in contact sports and are caused by the head being forcefully pushed down or to the side (usually in a collision). The resulting pinched nerves cause stinging electrical-type pain, usually in one arm, and can lead to overall weakness in the limb if not treated. Much like disc injuries, treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, or steroid or cortisone injections.
  • Fractures: while it sounds scary, “spinal fracture” is not synonymous with “spinal cord injury” and the severity depends on the location of the fracture and whether surrounding ligaments were also injured or dislocated. Symptoms vary in accordance with the severity of the fracture but can include back or neck pain, numbness and tingling, muscle spasms or weakness, or paralysis. In many cases, spinal fractures heal with conservative treatments of rest and medication, otherwise braces, orthotics, and surgical fusion may be necessary.

Prevent Injury & Play It Safe

With spinal injury, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re engaging in any kind of contact sport, make sure helmets, padding, and other protective gear are worn and properly fitted. If you or another athlete suspects a spinal injury after a fall or collision—especially if you experience pain, numbness or tingling, or muscle weakness or paralysis—see an orthopedic specialist right away.

Not sure who to see regarding spinal injuries? Learn more about our orthopedic spine specialists visit our website or email us at


Sweet Dreams for Complete, Quality Health

If you only remember one thing for the sake of your health, let it be this: sleep well.

Sleep is one of the most critical components in your overall health, affecting your physical, mental and emotional states of being. Unfortunately, in this age of mobile phones, digital clocks and televisions in bedrooms, getting proper rest has become a unique challenge. But don’t accept the idea that sleep deprivation is part of life—it shouldn’t be! There are things you can do to slumber soundly, and Methodist Hospital for Surgery is here to help.

Enter the Center for Sleep Disorders at Methodist Hospital for Surgery. Sleep studies are the modern man’s tool for determining what hinders proper sleep, so physicians (or dieticians or therapists) can prescribe targeted remedies. The Center for Sleep Disorders at Methodist Hospital for Surgery just might be your ticket to improved rest and better health.

What happens inside the sleep lab?

A Sleep study, officially termed polysomnogram, involves lots of measurements. When preparing for a sleep study, sensors are attached to your scalp, legs, chest and neck, and record things like:

  • Brain Waves
  • Eye Movements (this helps determine when you’re in deep sleep)
  • Heart Rate
  • Breathing Pattern & Oxygen Levels (these readings may indicate sleep apnea)
  • Body Position & Movement
  • Leg movements

There are also microphones throughout the sleep lab to help monitor snoring or other sounds you make during sleep. After a sleep study, all of your measurements are evaluated to determine whether you suffer from any number of sleep disorders, which may include:

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleepwalking

So I can’t sleep, now what?

Good news—treatment methods for sleep disorders are as innovative as the labs used to diagnose them. In addition to pharmaceuticals created to promote proper sleep cycles, breathing devices like the CPAP are helpful in alleviating sleep apnea and simple dental appliances can help with snoring.

Other times, devices and drugs are not the trick. That’s when your physician may prescribe certain lifestyle changes, such as tobacco cessation, exercise programs, stress management or dietary adjustments.

It’s time to get some sleep.

Don’t let sleep loss lower your quality of life. If you wrestle with daytime fatigue, unusual shifts in mood or anxiety levels, slow reaction times and suspect that sleep may be the underlying problem, contact the bedtime pros at Methodist Hospital for Surgery and take the first step to a good night’s sleep.

Step Up! Podiatric Insight for Happy, Healthy Feet

Sometimes it’s easy to write off foot pain—blame a long afternoon, ill-fitting shoes or yesterday’s workout—but it’s not something to ignore, especially if it’s persistent.

Fortunately, the podiatric specialists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery have some insight for keeping your feet happy, healthy and steadily stepping along.

The Most Common Foot Pain Offenders

The list of common causes for foot pain is extensive and includes everything from bunions and bone disease to flat feet and fractures. For most of us though, the culprits are injury, overuse, inflammation or arthritis. But we’re going to narrow our focus even more, since arguably the most common foot ache complaints stem from those first two offenders: injury and overuse.

Foot ache that stems from overuse may include:

  • Dull ache
  • Painful arch
  • Difficulty wearing shoes
  • Tenderness to the touch

Meanwhile, symptoms of injury could include any of the above as well as:

  • Inflammation
  • Inability to walk or apply pressure
  • Pain in ankles, knees or hips
  • Visible bruising or redness

If you have pain or swelling that you consider severe (especially if it’s stopping you from walking or standing), or if you’re a diabetic with open wounds on your feet, it’s time to call your doctor. Otherwise, consider some targeted home remedies.

A Good Excuse to Prop ‘Em Up

That euphoric feeling of relief when you prop your feet up isn’t just in your head. By elevating your feet, especially if they’re at or above the level of your heart, you’re using gravity to help reduce inflammation and redirect blood back to your heart. Plus there’s a lot to be said for simply taking your body weight off your feet, which helps further reduce inflammation and lets your muscles recover.

In addition to simple rest and elevation, ice or a hot Epsom soak are great healers, too. If you choose to ice an injured foot, we recommend leaving your ice pack in place for about twenty minutes then removing it; after twenty minutes off, you can put the ice pack back in place, then continue the on-and-off rotation as needed.

As for the Epsom soak, Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium sulfate, which is a mineral that can be absorbed through the skin and provides numerous benefits including pain relief, reduced inflammation and improved circulation. Just fill a small foot tub with warm water up to your ankles and add one cup of Epsom salts; soak your feet for 10-15 minutes, then dry them off and prop them up!

Learn More About Happy, Healthy Feet

For more insight regarding how to care for your feet, check out “Tips for Healthy Feet” from the American Podiatric Medical Association. Then take a moment to consider whether it’s time for you to visit the podiatric specialists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery

stretch to stay injury-free

Stretch to Stay Injury-Free While Getting Active

Spring abounds! So it’s time to get back outdoors, where you can get active and vary that winter exercise routine—whether you’re participating in sports, biking or running or hiking a trail, the possibilities are endless. But while you’re trekking about the wild outside, make sure you’re aware of potential risks for injury.

For insight, we turn to Joe Goodwin, PT, OCS, CFMT, a physical therapist at Methodist Hospital for Surgery, who sheds light on the best ways to avoid sport or exercise-related injuries.

Save the Static, Start with Dynamic

You’ve probably been told before to stretch before working out. “Not so,” says Goodwin.

“Stretching prior to sports may actually be harmful. Multiple studies have shown that static stretching before physical activity actually increases the risk of injury.” Static stretching is simply stretching individual muscles while the rest of your body is still.

The alternative? Dynamic warm-up routines. Dynamic stretching is “active” stretching that focuses on several muscle groups at once and simultaneously works to warm up the arms, legs and back. The result is a nice stretch and gentle rise in heart rate as blood flow increases.

But static stretching still has its place. Static stretches after a game or workout help maintain normal range of motion in the joints and maximize the overall muscle performance. Because tight muscles have a limited range and produce less force, stretching after athletics—when muscles are warmed up—produces the best outcome and minimizes the risk of injury.

You’ll Regret A Neglected Stretch

If you neglect stretching altogether, you’ll probably experience decreased range of motion in your joints and muscular force, causing other muscle groups to work harder.

“Causing a muscle group to work harder puts excess strain on an area of the body that cannot handle it, which can result in injury.” And injury can be a minor muscle pulls or major tears in the muscles and ligaments, which will require lengthy recovery periods.

Overall, Goodwin suggests that you warm up by performing your planned activity on a lighter scale. For example, if you’re going to play soccer, go for a light jog or pass and kick the ball for 5-10 minutes, and then move to a dynamic warm up that loosens the joints. When you’re ready to wrap it up, don’t forget the static stretches to loosen and lengthen all of your major muscle groups.

Troublesome joints killing your outdoor game? The expert physical therapists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery can help you get back to peak performance.

How Joint Wellness Classes Are Empowering Patients

For most people who are nervous about the idea of surgery, it is the fear of the unknown that concerns them most. No one likes to enter a situation with unanswered questions, but the feeling is seriously compounded when you add things like anesthesia and recovery to the equation.

To help ease surgery-related fears, Methodist Hospital for Surgery has developed a joint wellness class called Improving Your Moving. This free class is available to all Methodist Hospital for Surgery patients undergoing total hip or knee replacement and is taught by the hospital’s joint and spine coordinator, Candace Callegan, RN.

Total joint replacement is a unique surgery in that it is generally not an emergency; this means patients have time to plan, prepare and voice their concerns, which means they’ll know exactly what to expect going into surgery. In this one-day class, patients will learn numerous surgery-related topics, including how to prepare the home, what patients can expect on arrival and after discharge, what medications to take and avoid and how to manage pain.

Methodist Hospital for Surgery has been offering this class to patients for nearly three years, and the response has been tremendous. Most patients leave the class with a sense of relief, knowing what they can expect in surgery, and many have responded saying everything happened in just the way she said it would.

“By eliminating the fear of the unknown and getting all their questions answered, patients are better prepared,” explains Callegan. “Because they know what to expect, they can play an active role in their recovery, which leads to better outcomes.”

Dan Gideon, president of Methodist Hospital for Surgery, adds, “The overall patient experience is enhanced when the patient population is well informed because it reduces anxiety for both the patient and their family. With less energy given to worry, patients are better able to put their energy toward recovery.”

Patients are also encouraged to bring a friend or family member to class as their “coach.” By attending class alongside the patient, the “coach” is armed with the same knowledge and can help the patient in preparing for surgery and during recovery as well.

As a destination medical center for orthopedic surgery, Methodist Hospital for Surgery has a commitment to provide patients with the best possible medical care. The joint wellness class demonstrates this commitment by providing patients with information that empowers them and leads to an overall positive surgical experience.

Learn more and get details for the next Joint Wellness Class at