Physical Therapy or Opioids for Pain Relief? Which Do You Choose?


Some Scary Statistics:


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, both heroin and prescription, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, has quadrupled since 1999. More than 91 Americans die everyday from opioid overdoses.


Opioids do nothing to get rid of the cause of pain and they come with a number of side effects, according to an article at,  including sleepiness, itching, nausea, sexual side effects and, for just about everyone, constipation.  As stated in this report from the CDC, “an estimated 20% of patients presenting to physician offices with noncancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses (including acute and chronic pain) receive an opioid prescription.”


A Better Option:


Research shows that with the right kind of manual therapy, the right kind of exercise, and some pain science education so you understand why you’re hurting, you can be on the way to ridding yourself of pain without the truly dangerous side effects of opioid medications, and without injections or surgery.Read the rest

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Holiday Stress? 5 Ways To Keep Your Body From Suffering The Consequences

There are two sides to the holiday coin: You love this time of year… Presents, decorations, seeing loved ones, SNOW! You don’t exactly love this time of year… Presents, decorations, seeing loved ones, SNOW! Most of us would agree, no matter how much you love the holidays, they (especially Christmas) do bring some extra stress. Which can bring extra physical discomfort. Like a stiff neck or a headache. Or, if you’re normally so inclined, maybe a sore jaw, or back pain.


What can you do to keep holiday stress from becoming physical pain? Very often what causes the most problems physically are the things you do all the time that you have no idea you’re even doing.Read the rest

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Do You Ever Wake Up With a Headache? This Might Be The Reason…


Most people are more prone to headaches at the end of the day. You’re tired, hungry, and you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours. Your neck is getting tighter by the minute. Makes sense that you’re getting a headache. But what about those times you actually wake up with a headache? You haven’t been working. Or holding your shoulders up. Or dealing with difficult people. You’ve been sleeping. Why (assuming red wine is not involved) would you wake up with a headache?

Think jaw muscles. (Don’t take my word for it. Check this out from the Cleveland Clinic.) Many people grind their teeth at night.… Read the rest

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Do You Have a High Pain Tolerance?



On January 20th, 2008, Brett Favre played his last game for the Green Bay Packers. On this particular day, something was much different about Brett. Known for his mental toughness and high pain tolerance, on this day the cold temperatures were getting to him. On the other side of the field, Eli Manning seemed unfazed by the frigid temps. Mr. Favre had lost something. Was it his tolerance for pain? Probably not!


We have all been hurt and we have all recovered. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Two people of similar age and health, involved in the same car accident, sustaining what is commonly known as a whiplash injury, can experience entirely different outcomes.Read the rest

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The Myth of Core Stabilization

The following video is one of the best explanations of the myth of core stabilization that I’ve come across. It’s fairly short (about 11 minutes) and explains why contracting muscles that are often already overworked does not make sense and can make low back pain worse. Professor O’Sullivan believes that normalizing movement and trusting that your back does not need to abnormally brace before working are much more effective strategies in overcoming low back pain.

Read the rest

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I just got back from the second of two nine-day trainings in something called “Clinical Somatics” and, because I believe everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, would benefit from Clinical Somatics, I’d like to share a little bit about it…

Just what is Clinical Somatics?  And how can YOU benefit from it?

If you feel like you’re “just getting old,” have too many days with headaches, back, neck, shoulder, hip or knee pain, or if you simply want to improve your golf or basketball game, read on.

Look around the next time you’re out and about in a public place. Check out how differently people move and carry themselves.… Read the rest

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Training Versus Therapy

We have a lot of strange conversations in our house (just ask our kids). A couple of weeks ago, Gil asked me, “What do you think is the difference between training and therapy? How are they fundamentally different?”

I started off on the many ways I think the two differ: Training is about pushing yourself as hard as you can; therapy is about listening to how much your body can handle. Training is about becoming stronger or faster; therapy is generally about feeling better. Training is about moving toward an external standard; therapy is about discovering your internal standard.

Gil nodded, but it was clear I hadn’t hit on “it.”

So I asked him, “What do YOU think is the main difference between training and therapy?”

“With training,” he said, “the last repetition is the hardest.… Read the rest

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Excited Sledder

The Pain Is Back

I can’t tell you how many times a past client has returned to my office with the complaint, “I was doing so well. I couldn’t believe my neck (back, head, etc…) didn’t hurt much at all anymore, and then, for no apparent reason, the pain is back. WHY?”

Typically, the return of the neck pain (or back pain, headaches–you get the idea) did not involve any change in activity level, stress level, or anything else that would seem to matter. At first it was a mystery: Why had the pain returned?

Digging a little deeper, it became clear, and holds true for most every person that comes back with this complaint: The problem wasn’t that their activity/work/stress level has changed.… Read the rest

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Back Pain Man

3 Things NOT To Do If You Have Back Pain

Warning: Some of these may surprise you!

1.  DON’T try to “stand up straight” and have “good posture.” Many times with back pain our bodies adopt a crooked or bent over posture. This happens for a reason: To keep pressure off of the nerves. If you try to straighten up, your body will tell you immediately that this is the wrong thing to do by increasing the pain you’re feeling.

2.  DON’T try abdominal strengthening or core stabilization. There’s been plenty of research done on this and none of it has shown that strengthening our core decreases back pain. Not that it’s bad to have strong core muscles.… Read the rest

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Five Easy Breathing Tips

Shallow, upper chest breathing is associated with headaches/migraines and most chronic pain, including neck pain and low back pain. Here are a few easy tips to get started with healthier, diaphragmatic breathing.

1.  When you breathe in, your stomach should move out. There should be minimal movement of your shoulders (up) and upper chest (out).

2. The easiest position to learn to breathe with your diaphragm is lying on your back. Put one hand on your upper chest and one on your upper stomach. The stomach hand should move up as you breathe in and down as you breathe out. It’s much easier to learn in the gravity-eliminated position of lying down than sitting or standing.… Read the rest

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What’s Wrong With the Way I Breathe?

Breathing is something most of us don’t usually think about. If we’re still alive and breathing, we must be doing it right, right? Wrong.

Let’s start with the disadvantages of rapid, upper chest breathing. Things I see in my physical therapy practice every day. Like neck pain, low back pain, anxiety, poor sleep, cold hands and feet. And headaches. Especially headaches. In all my years of practice, I have never, not once, met someone suffering from headaches who breathed well. (Most of my clients with headaches have a similar story: headaches for years, poor sleep, cold hands and feet, tight neck muscles–all related to upper chest breathing).… Read the rest

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