• Posted on 6/2/2021

    HealthWorks’s Ted Kurlinkus, P.T., DPT, recently joined Dr. Brian Cole, orthopedic sports medicine surgeon, and Steve Kashul, host of Chicago Bulls Basketball, on Sports Medicine Weekly to discuss how physical therapy helps patients manage pain. Ted also covered how to know when you should see a physical therapist. Check it out!

    The podcast is now available to stream on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you enjoy your podcasts. More information can also be found at sportsmedicineweekly.com.

     

  • woman wearing covid protection mask

    Posted on 5/25/2021

    Have you ever heard the term “mask jaw”? Well, guess what? It’s a thing!

    Mask jaw is the jaw pain and pressure many of us experience as we wear our masks for an extended period of time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently put out new masking guidance for vaccinated people, masks will still be part of most of our lives for the foreseeable future. And, all that mask wearing can take a toll!

    If you jut your chin forward or tense your jaw muscles to hold your mask in its proper position over your nose and mouth, you are likely experiencing jaw tightness. Headaches and muscle tension can also be caused by stress, something we’ve all felt more of since March 2020!

    Let’s take a closer look at how your jaw works. Your jaw bone connects to your skull on both sides of your face, and is referred to as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. It is a rounded bone, with a disc that provides a cushion to support the joint, much like the discs in your spine and meniscus in your knee.

    When you first open your mouth, your jaw hinges and rotates. As you open further, it glides and translates until you open it fully. This action happens with large muscles from your temples and cheek, to smaller muscles deep within the jaw. At least that’s how it works normally. When there is an issue with the disc, the muscles or the joint itself, it is referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD.

    TMD includes a wide range of symptoms, such as pain in the jaw or neck, headaches, locking of the jaw in an open or closed position, clicking noises and pain or difficulty with speaking, eating or chewing. TMD symptoms are widely reported by many people, but become troublesome when they start limiting your day-to-day activities.

    Now, let’s dive into how your mask may be the culprit to any lingering jaw pain you may be experiencing.

    1. Maybe you are breathing through your mouth while wearing your mask. Did you know that this places more stress on the jaw from it being constantly open?

      Wearing a mask can feel like you are not getting enough fresh air, but it should not alter how you breathe. Each inhale and exhale should pass in and out of your nose. Your jaw muscles are relaxed in this “resting” position. This means that the tip of your tongue is gently touching the roof of your mouth while your back teeth, the molars, are not quite touching.  

      If you breathe in and out of your mouth, your jaw remains open. To keep your jaw open means your muscles are doing extra work. When you breathe with a mask on, focus on the air passing in and out of your nose.
    2. Maybe the ear loops are too tight. This creates tension and can throw off the alignment of your jaw and, in some cases, cause headache. 

      Masks come in all shapes and sizes, and the fit is important. Whether made of fabric or disposable, it should never feel like it is pulling your ears forward or your chin backward. These compressive forces can easily trigger a headache. Consider a mask extender or “ear savers” to keep the ear loops from tugging and avoid a potential headache altogether.
    3. Are you clenching your teeth more because of stress? This is an easy trigger for TMJ pain and dysfunction. 

      Remember the resting jaw position? This is the most relaxed position for the muscles. When you clench your teeth and hold that bite position for extended periods of time, the jaw muscles can go into spasm. Avoid gum chewing or biting your nails, which can make symptoms worse. Exercise is a key component to overall health and managing stress. Take a walk or jog, meditate or find another way to get moving. Your body and your jaw will thank you.
    4. Chances are, you are moving your jaw in altered positions to adjust how your mask is resting on your face. 

      With a proper fitting mask, you will avoid overusing your jaw. Use a mask that has some moldable wire that can be shaped around your nose. Additionally, avoid masks that are too big and sag on your face, or that are too small and tug on your ears. You should be able to speak and breath through your mouth (wink, wink) comfortably. To avoid jaw pain, make sure your mask is molded to your face and does not slide or move easily.  

      If you are feeling pain or clenching in your jaw, experiencing headaches or are having difficulty with chewing or eating, physical therapy can help. To learn more about our TMD program or to schedule an appointment at one of our centers, please contact us today.

      By: Nicole Romaine, P.T., MPT. Nicole is a physical therapist for Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange, NJ. 

      Kessler and HealthWorks are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
     

     

  • Posted on 5/12/2021

    “Am I Injured?”

    This is a question I get asked by many runners.

    “How do I know if I’m injured and not just sore from running/training?”

    Short of a physical examination, this is what I tell them...

    There is good pain and bad pain. Good pain stops when you stop. It is generally mild, diffuses and doesn’t affect quality of movement. Bad pain does not stop when you stop. It can get worse during or after activity. It can be sharp in nature, and significant enough to force you to change your gait whether you realize it or not.

    If you have rested or taken time off from running, and the pain has decreased or gone away only to return when you start running again, there is most likely some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. There could be an issue with muscle imbalances, running form, footwear, training schedule, joint mechanics or any combination of these.

    If you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) daily or after every run for pain, you may have an overuse injury. Overuse injuries account for the majority of running injuries. They occur when a tissue is loaded beyond its threshold. In bone, this can result in a stress fracture. In tendon, this usually manifests as tendonitis or tendinosis. Excessive stress to a ligament can result in a sprain.

    Overuse is relative and not always obvious. It can be a result of “too much, too soon” with regard to training or mileage. It can also be due to cumulative stress from non-running activities and/or compensation. When a structure takes on additional stress to unload another, it can break down.

    How can physical therapy help? A thorough evaluation by a physical therapist can help identify the underlying problem so that you’re not just treating symptoms.

    A progressive loading program can assist the injured tissue regain the strength needed to resume running and training. Hands-on therapy can also help restore normal joint mechanics so that muscles are functioning more efficiently and inert structures are not unnecessarily stressed.

    Physical therapy can you build strength, endurance and minimize running injuries, so you can achieve your personal best.

    By: Martine Marino, MPT, COMT. Martine is a physical therapist and the center manager for NovaCare Rehabilitation in Bethel Park, PA.

    NovaCare and HealthWorks are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands. 

     

     

  • Posted on 4/20/2021

    The West Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association inducted HealthWorks Rehab & Fitness president Jack Brautigam, PT, ATC, into their Hall of Fame on Sunday, April 18.

    An informal ceremony took place virtually as part of the 2021 WVATA Business Meeting and Annual Symposium over the weekend, with a formal ceremony scheduled for the 2022 WVATA Symposium.

    Induction into the WVATA is reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the athletic training profession within the state of West Virginia and have brought great distinction to the WVATA.

    Jack is the president and CEO of HealthWork Rehab & Fitness, and has been working as an athletic trainer and physical therapist for 44 years.

    Jack joined HealthWorks (then known as Morgantown Physical Therapy Associates) as a partner in 1989, and has been instrumental in the explosive growth of the company as they added seven satellite clinics in North Central West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Brautigam has served as Board Chair of the WV Board of Physical Therapy from 2017 to present, Clinical Professor for WVU School of Physical Therapy from 1997 to present, and as President of the WV Athletic Trainers Association from 1993-1996.

    He also served as an athletic trainer for the XIII Summer World Games for the Deaf for the US Wrestling and Track & Field Teams in 1997, as staff physical therapist and captain of the US Army Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 1986-1989, and as an athletic trainer for Virginia Tech from 1978-1981 and West Virginia University from 1981-1984.

    When asked about his recent induction into the WVATA Hall of Fame, Jack said:

    “I am humbled and appreciative to be inducted into the WV Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame.  It is very meaningful to me that I was nominated for this award by co-workers that I hold in very high esteem. My athletic training education and experience are the foundation for my career in healthcare and have contributed to both my professional and personal growth.  I have been blessed with lifelong relationships with mentors, colleagues, students, coaches, and players that have all contributed to my education and training.  I am very fortunate that my wife and children have always been supportive of my career.”

    The West Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association (WVATA) is a non-profit organization, representing and supporting 200+ members dedicated to enhancing the quality of health care and to advance the athletic training profession.

    Other Hall of Fame inductees for 2020 and 2021 included Randy Meador, M.S., ATC (West Virginia University), John Spiker (former HealthWorks president and WVU athletic trainer), Bob Cable, M.S., ATC (Fairmont State University), and Joe Beckett, EdD, ATC (Marshall University).