Mid Back Conditions

Learn more about the neck injuries and conditions we treat using physiotherapy:

What is osteoporosis?

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a medical condition characterized by the weakening of bones, which leads to a decrease in bone density and an increased risk of fractures. It occurs when the balance between bone formation and bone resorption is disrupted, resulting in bones that are less dense and more prone to fractures, even with minor trauma or stress.

Key points about osteoporosis include:

  1. Bone Density Loss: In osteoporosis, there is a significant reduction in bone mineral density, which makes bones less dense and more porous. This compromises their strength and structural integrity.
  2. Risk Factors: Several factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. These include aging, genetics (family history of the condition), hormonal changes (such as menopause in women), a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, certain medications (e.g., long-term corticosteroid use), and certain medical conditions (e.g., hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis).
  3. Asymptomatic: Osteoporosis is often considered a “silent disease” because it typically progresses without noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs. Fractures most commonly occur in the hip, spine, and wrist.
  4. Fracture Risks: Fractures in individuals with osteoporosis can have serious consequences, particularly hip fractures, which are associated with a higher risk of disability and mortality. Vertebral fractures can lead to a loss of height, spinal deformity, and back pain.
  5. Diagnosis: The diagnosis of osteoporosis is typically made through a bone density test, often measured using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. This test provides a T-score that compares an individual’s bone density to that of a healthy young adult, with lower scores indicating lower bone density.
  6. Prevention and Treatment: Osteoporosis can be prevented and managed through lifestyle changes, dietary improvements, weight-bearing exercises, and, in some cases, medications. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation may also be recommended. Medications that help increase bone density or slow down bone resorption may be prescribed in certain cases.
  7. Fall Prevention: Reducing the risk of falls, especially in older individuals, is a critical part of preventing fractures in those with osteoporosis. This may involve home modifications, physical therapy, and balance exercises.

What physiotherapy treatment is available for osteoporosis?

Physiotherapy can play a crucial role in the management and prevention of osteoporosis. It can help improve bone health, posture, balance, and overall physical function, reducing the risk of falls and fractures.

Here are some ways in which physiotherapy can be beneficial for individuals with osteoporosis:

  1. Exercise Programs: A physiotherapist can design a customized exercise program tailored to an individual’s needs, considering their bone health and any physical limitations. Weight-bearing exercises, resistance training, and flexibility exercises are often included to improve bone density and muscle strength.
  2. Posture and Body Mechanics: Physiotherapists can teach proper body mechanics and techniques to maintain good posture, which is essential for reducing the risk of vertebral fractures. This includes instruction on how to sit, stand, and lift objects correctly to minimize strain on the spine.
  3. Balance Training: Osteoporosis can lead to a higher risk of falls, which can result in fractures. Physiotherapy can include balance exercises to enhance stability and reduce the likelihood of falls.
  4. Gait Training: Proper walking and movement patterns are important for fall prevention. A physiotherapist can assess an individual’s gait and provide recommendations for improvement.
  5. Pain Management: Physiotherapists can use various techniques, such as manual therapy and modalities like heat or cold therapy, to help manage pain associated with osteoporosis.
  6. Educational Support: Physiotherapists can provide education about osteoporosis, its management, and lifestyle modifications to minimize fracture risk. This includes guidance on diet, nutrition, and fall prevention strategies.
  7. Assistive Devices: If necessary, a physiotherapist can recommend and assist with the selection and use of mobility aids, such as canes or walkers, to enhance safety and mobility.

It’s essential for individuals with osteoporosis to work closely with healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, to develop a comprehensive plan for managing their condition. The specific exercises and interventions will vary depending on the individual’s bone health, mobility, and overall health.

Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have a medical condition like osteoporosis, to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your specific situation.

Additionally, a well-rounded approach to osteoporosis management may also involve nutritional counseling, medications, and regular monitoring of bone density to track progress and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

Postural Dysfunction

What is postural dysfunction?

Postural dysfunction, also known as postural disorders or postural problems, refers to the malalignment or abnormal positioning of various parts of the body when a person is sitting, standing, or moving. These dysfunctions can be related to muscle imbalances, joint stiffness, poor posture habits, or other factors.

Proper posture is essential for maintaining good musculoskeletal health and preventing pain and discomfort. Postural dysfunction can manifest in various ways, including:

  1. Forward head posture: This occurs when the head is positioned forward of the body’s center of gravity, often due to activities like prolonged computer use or looking down at smartphones. It can lead to neck pain and headaches.
  2. Rounded shoulders: Rounded shoulders result from slouching and can lead to a hunched upper back and shoulder pain. It may be caused by weak upper back muscles and tight chest muscles.
  3. Kyphosis: Kyphosis is an excessive outward curvature of the upper spine, which can give a rounded appearance to the upper back. It may be associated with poor posture, osteoporosis, or other underlying conditions.
  4. Lordosis: Lordosis is an excessive inward curvature of the lower spine (in the lumbar region), which can lead to a pronounced arch in the lower back. It is often seen in individuals with weak abdominal muscles or tight hip flexors.
  5. Scoliosis: Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine, resulting in a “C” or “S” shape when viewed from behind. It can be congenital or develop during growth and may lead to postural imbalances and discomfort.
  6. Anterior pelvic tilt: This condition occurs when the pelvis tilts forward, leading to an increased arch in the lower back. It is often associated with tight hip flexors and weak gluteal and abdominal muscles.
  7. Posterior pelvic tilt: In this case, the pelvis tilts backward, causing a flattened lower back and a posteriorly tilted pelvis. It may be related to muscle imbalances or joint issues.
  8. Knock-knees or bowlegs: Abnormal knee positioning, such as knock-knees (valgus deformity) or bowlegs (varus deformity), can affect overall posture and gait.
  9. Flat feet: Lack of arch support in the feet can affect overall posture and gait, potentially leading to issues with the ankles, knees, hips, and back.

Postural dysfunction can result in pain, discomfort, and an increased risk of injury. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor ergonomic conditions, sedentary lifestyles, muscle imbalances, and structural abnormalities.

Physiotherapy can be beneficial in addressing and correcting postural dysfunction by improving muscle balance, flexibility, and alignment. Additionally, simple lifestyle changes and exercises can help individuals maintain better posture and prevent or alleviate postural issues.

Rib Dysfunction

What is rib dysfunction?

Rib dysfunction refers to a condition in which one or more of the ribs in the chest do not move or function properly within the rib cage. The ribcage consists of 12 pairs of ribs that attach to the spine in the back and curve around to meet the sternum (breastbone) in the front.

These ribs play a crucial role in protecting the internal organs, providing structural support, and facilitating the mechanics of breathing. When a rib becomes dysfunctional, it can lead to various symptoms and discomfort.

What causes rib dysfunction?

Rib dysfunction can result from various causes, including:

  1. Trauma: Direct impact, such as a fall, sports injury, or car accident, can lead to rib dysfunction. Fractures or dislocations of the ribs are examples of traumatic causes.
  2. Poor posture: Maintaining poor posture over an extended period can affect the alignment and function of the ribs. Slouching or sitting with a rounded upper back can contribute to rib dysfunction.
  3. Repetitive motions: Activities or occupations that involve repetitive motions of the upper body, such as heavy lifting or overhead reaching, can strain the rib joints and soft tissues.
  4. Muscular imbalances: Muscle imbalances in the chest, back, and ribcage can disrupt the normal movement and alignment of the ribs.
  5. Inflammatory conditions: Conditions like costochondritis, which involves inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the sternum, can lead to rib pain and discomfort.

What are the signs and symptoms of rib dysfunction?

Common symptoms of rib dysfunction may include:

  1. Localized rib pain, tenderness, or discomfort.
  2. Pain that worsens with deep breathing, coughing, or sneezing.
  3. Restricted rib movement or a sensation of stiffness in the chest.
  4. Radiating pain to the back, shoulders, or arms.
  5. Muscle spasms in the chest or upper back.
  6. Difficulty breathing deeply or taking full breaths.

What physiotherapy treatment is available for rib dysfunction?

Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for rib dysfunction, helping to relieve pain, improve rib mobility, and restore normal function.

Here are some of the approaches and exercises that a physiotherapist may incorporate into a treatment plan for rib dysfunction:

  1. Manual therapy: Physiotherapists can use hands-on techniques to address rib dysfunction. These may include mobilizations and manipulations of the rib joints to improve mobility and alignment.
  2. Postural correction: Improving posture is often crucial for managing rib dysfunction. The physiotherapist can assess your posture and provide guidance on maintaining proper alignment during daily activities.
  3. Breathing exercises: Learning to breathe properly is important, as shallow or dysfunctional breathing patterns can exacerbate rib pain. Your physiotherapist can guide you in practicing deep diaphragmatic breathing and other breathing exercises.
  4. Stretching exercises: Gentle stretches for the chest, upper back, and ribcage can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility. Stretching exercises should be tailored to your specific condition.
  5. Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the muscles that support the ribcage and thoracic spine can help stabilize the area and prevent future dysfunction. This may include exercises for the intercostal muscles, serratus anterior, and back muscles.
  6. Postural exercises: Exercises that focus on maintaining good posture and avoiding slouching can be an essential part of the treatment plan.
  7. Mobility exercises: Gentle movements and exercises can help improve the range of motion of the ribcage, facilitating better rib function.
  8. Pain management techniques: Physiotherapists may employ modalities like heat or cold therapy or acupuncture to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  9. Education and self-management: Your physiotherapist will provide you with guidance on how to manage your condition at home. This may include recommendations for posture, ergonomics, and exercises to continue on your own.

It’s important to remember that the specific physiotherapy plan will be tailored to your individual condition and symptoms. The physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause of your rib dysfunction and create a treatment plan based on your needs and goals.

Be sure to follow your physiotherapist’s instructions closely and communicate any changes in your symptoms or progress during your treatment.

It’s important to undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a physiotherapist, to determine the cause of your vertigo and create an appropriate treatment plan. VRT is most effective when tailored to your specific type of vertigo, and consistency with prescribed exercises is essential for achieving positive outcomes.

With proper guidance and commitment, many individuals with vertigo can experience significant relief and improved balance through physiotherapy treatments. To book your assessment with one of our FCAMT Physiotherapists, click here.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

What is thoracic outlet syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is a group of disorders that occur when there is compression, irritation, or injury to the blood vessels, nerves, or muscles in the thoracic outlet, which is the area between your neck and shoulder.

This region is relatively narrow and contains several important structures, including the brachial plexus (a network of nerves that control the arm and hand), subclavian artery (an important blood vessel that supplies blood to the arm), and subclavian vein (a large vein that returns blood from the arm to the heart).

There are three main types of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:

  1. Neurogenic TOS: This is the most common type and results from the compression of the brachial plexus nerves. It can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arm and hand. Activities that involve repetitive arm movements, poor posture, or an extra rib (cervical rib) are common causes.
  2. Arterial TOS: This occurs when the subclavian artery is compressed, leading to reduced blood flow to the arm. Symptoms may include coldness, discoloration, and pain in the affected limb, especially during physical activity.
  3. Venous TOS: In this type, the subclavian vein is compressed, causing swelling, pain, and discoloration in the arm. It’s often associated with activities that involve repetitive arm movements or heavy lifting.

Diagnosing TOS can be challenging because the symptoms can mimic other conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or nerve compression in the neck. 

What physiotherapy treatment is available for TOS?

Physiotherapy can be an essential component of the treatment plan for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), particularly for neurogenic TOS, where nerve compression is the primary issue. A physiotherapist can help you improve your posture, strengthen your muscles, and alleviate symptoms.

Here are some common physiotherapy approaches for TOS:

  1. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, and myofascial release, may be used to alleviate muscle tension and improve circulation in the affected area.
  2. Postural Training: Proper posture is crucial in managing TOS. Your physiotherapist will work with you to improve your posture and teach you techniques to maintain better alignment of your neck, shoulder, and upper back.
  3. Stretching Exercises: Specific stretches can help relieve muscle tightness and tension in the neck, shoulders, and chest. Your therapist may instruct you in exercises that target these areas.
  4. Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles around the shoulders, neck, and upper back can help stabilize the region and reduce the risk of compression. Your physiotherapist will design a customized exercise program to strengthen the muscles that support your thoracic outlet.
  5. Nerve Gliding Exercises: These exercises can help improve the mobility and function of the brachial plexus nerves and reduce compression. Your therapist will guide you through gentle nerve gliding exercises.
  6. Modalities: Your physical therapist may use modalities like heat, ice, or acupuncture to relieve pain and inflammation.
  7. Ergonomic and Activity Modification: Your therapist can provide guidance on how to adapt your work and daily activities to reduce strain on the thoracic outlet and prevent aggravating your symptoms.
  8. Education: You’ll learn about TOS, its causes, and strategies to manage and prevent its recurrence.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan. The specific exercises and techniques used in physiotherapy will vary depending on the type and severity of TOS, as well as individual patient needs.

Your physiotherapist will work with you to create a tailored plan to address your condition and help you regain function and reduce symptoms.

It’s important to undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a physiotherapist, to determine the cause of your vertigo and create an appropriate treatment plan. VRT is most effective when tailored to your specific type of vertigo, and consistency with prescribed exercises is essential for achieving positive outcomes.

With proper guidance and commitment, many individuals with vertigo can experience significant relief and improved balance through physiotherapy treatments.   To book your assessment with one of our FCAMT Physiotherapists, click here.

Have a question for one of our physiotherapists?