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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Binge Watches Beware

Frequent TV-Watching Comes With A Risk That Can’t Be Ignored

Dedicated binge-watchers beware!  A study has found that regular long periods of television viewing can increase risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition in which a blood clot forms most often in the deep veins of the leg, groin or arm (known as deep vein thrombosis, DVT) and travels in the circulation, lodging in the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism, PE). Another scary part? The risk of venous thromboembolism isn’t reduced by increased levels of physical activity. So regardless of how active you are when you are off the couch, the risk of venous thromboembolism still silently lurks.

The study tracked the television viewing and physical activity habits of 15,792 participants aged 45-64 over a series of surveys from 1987 until 2011. For those that struggle with math, that’s a 24 year long research study! Participants were followed up with every 3 years during the study. Researchers excluded participants who reported baseline VTE or anticoagulant use.

Participants were asked to rate their television viewing habits during leisure time as “never,” “seldom,” “sometimes,” “often,” or “very often” at baseline, visit 3 (1993), and visit 5 (2011). Researchers tracked estimates of physical activity, demographic variables and body mass index (BMI). Results were published in The Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis. Highlights of the results are below.

  • Among all participants, 18.6% reported watching television “seldom,” 46.8% reported watching “sometimes,” 26.5% reported watching “often,” and 8.1% reported watching “very often.”
  • Results showed a positive correlation between frequency of television viewing and VTE incidence
  •  Participants who watched television “very often” had a 1.71 times higher risk of VTE than those reporting “seldom” watching television.
  • The relationship of VTE risk to television viewing remained in place despite levels of physical activity.
  • BMI did play a role. Obese individuals who reported watching television “very often” were found to have a 3.7 times higher risk of VTE than normal-weight individuals who reported watching television “seldom.”

The relationship between sedentary behavior and poor health may be well-known, but authors of this study believe they’ve added a new dynamic; the inability of physical activity to counteract the risk for VTE caused by prolonged sitting. These results echo findings in a study from 2017 that concluded that risk of a mobility disability increased relative to television-viewing time, regardless of hours spent in physical activity.

For those that are dedicated TV viewers, why not get some physical activity while you watch? Our editor’s favorite way to get her TV fix is to watch while she does cardio at the gym. Your workout will breeze by AND you won’t have missed a minute of your favorite show! Most gyms offer a variety of TVs that you can watch while using any of their equipment. If you’re not a gym goer, break up the long periods of sitting by doing aerobics or yoga during commercials. Developing behaviors that maintain good health is an important part of overall health and wellness, and it’s never too late to get started!

in Blog | July 17, 2018

Why You Need to See a Physical Therapist for Low Back Pain

For the past week, the pain and stiffness in your lower back has been unbearable. Daily activities like unloading the dishwasher, opening the car door, and taking the trash out are a struggle. Even sneezing is painful. You missed a day of work and your spouse has taken over all childcare duties. If you can relate to this scenario, then you probably think an MRI will give you the answers you’re looking for, right? Actually, that’s not the case according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Imaging of the lower spine within the first six weeks doesn’t improve outcomes, but it does increase costs.

A study that appeared in the scientific journal Health Services Research concluded that physical therapy costs far less than advanced imaging. The study, led by researchers Julie M. Fritz, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Gerard P. Brennan, PT, PhD, and Stephen J. Hunter, PT, PhD, OCS, focused on 841 individuals who consulted with a primary care provider about uncomplicated low back pain. Of those individuals, 385 were referred to advanced imaging, 377 were referred to physical therapy, and 79 received a physician specialist visit or other care, including chiropractic.

The average cost differences between the study groups were staggering. The average physical therapy cost was about $504 while an MRI rang in at about $1,306. That is almost triple the amount! During the subsequent year, costs were 66% lower for the patients who began with a physical therapy referral. Patients in physical therapy spent about $1,871 on their care, whereas the individuals in the imaging cohort spent $6,664.

Physical therapy is not only the least expensive first step in the treatment of low back pain, but also the most effective. Patients who are referred to imaging first are more likely to pursue other options including surgery, injections, specialist consultations, and emergency department visits within a year.  A physical therapist’s goals include decreasing pain, increasing function and teaching strategies to prevent future back problems. Physical therapy helps patients get to the heart of what’s causing the back pain and gives them tools to succeed in the future. Make the right choice and choose physical therapy first!

in Blog | July 10, 2018

Physical Therapy & Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Physical Therapy Scores High in the Treatment of Spinal Stenosis

Patients diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis are often surprised to learn that physical therapy for low back pain can be as effective as surgery without the associated costs and complications. The debilitating and painful diagnosis is a daily struggle for nearly 400,000 Americans.

The results of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis should first turn to a physical therapist trained to treat low back pain. The study team directly compared a single, evidence-based physical therapy regimen with decompression surgery in 169 participants who agreed to be randomly assigned to either approach. The study research revealed comparable long-term outcomes regardless of whether patients were assigned to the surgery or the physical therapy cohort.

Additionally, study authors concluded that increases in function followed similar trajectories from baseline onward in both groups. Symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis frequently leads to lifestyle-limiting back and lower extremity pain in older patients.

A physical therapy regimen for spinal stenosis is designed to reduce soft tissue pain, improve function and build muscle strength. Although the long-term outcomes of surgery and physical therapy are similar for this patient population, the short-term risks differ. Immediate decompression surgery, which involves removing the bony plate on the back of the vertebra where the stenosis is located, is an invasive procedure that comes with a high price tag and the prospect of complications. Meanwhile, similar outcomes can be achieved with an active, standardized physical therapy regimen that involves general conditioning, lower extremity strengthening exercises and postural education.

If you suffer from spinal stenosis or any other back pain, talk with your healthcare provider to see if physical therapy is the right decision for you! Some physical therapy providers offer free consultations and can see you the same day to get you on the road to a pain free life!


in Blog | July 3, 2018