As women, we are likely juggling many things, from work, family life to social obligations, it can be hard to find a moment to check in on our health. A woman’s body goes through a lot in a lifetime – from sometimes drastic hormonal changes to the unique stresses from pregnancy and raising kids. We cannot forget about the importance of regular check-ups because problems that are not taken care of, will not disappear by themselves. Getting the right help at the right time is a key to stay fit and active. Today about typical women’s problems we are talking with physical therapist Eva Krecisz.
Eva, what is the most typical problem women complain of?
Eva Kręcisz: Headaches and migraines are by far the most common problems of our gender. Frequently we see in our clinic women with tension or cluster headaches and those being the result of various diseases. One of the most common secondary pains, typical for hairdressers, beauticians, secretaries, accountants, dentists, and laboratory assistants, is cervicogenic headache related to the degenerative changes in the cervical spine as well as problems with joints or muscles of the neck.
How do you treat headaches?
EK: When our head starts to ache, usually we just take the same pill regardless of the reason or origin of the pain. It looks a bit different in the physical therapy field. During the initial evaluation, the therapist must first determine the causes and type of pain and develop a customized treatment plan. Each patient is treated individually because the cause of pain is different for each patient. Therapy aims to reduce both the frequency and intensity of pain. Here at our Clinic, we have over twenty years of experience in treating these types of ailments and I must say that we are successful in the vast majority of cases. Sometimes, however, the headache has a deeper origin, and in such a situation, the patient is referred to the doctor for additional tests.
What other women’s problems do you treat?
EK: We often see women suffering from vertigo disorder. Problems with balance are usually associated with seniors but recently we observe a change in this trend. We treat more and more young people, mostly young women, complaining about balance issues as well as dizziness. They suffer from one of two types of dizziness – either they have the feeling that the whole world is spinning around or that their body is spinning.
Should dizziness be worrisome?
EK: Not necessarily like when it is the result of a sudden change of position. Of course, this can be disturbing and if it lasts a longer period of time, it is worth going to a specialized physical therapist for a consultation to find out the reason for our ailment. This kind of dizziness is mainly related to inner ear disorder and usually is curable. Our therapists have a long experience in treating such conditions and are able to help in most cases. However, if someone experiences dizziness along with severe headaches, weakness in the limbs, loss of sensation in one half of the body, and at the same time has problems with speech, then should immediately see a doctor or go to an emergency room.
What about back and neck pain?
EK: This is another serious problem among women. Incorrect posture, lack of physical activity and being overweight, wearing high heels shoes, stress, and especially pregnancy and carrying children – all this, unfortunately, affects the condition of our bodies and in consequence, can lead to chronic pain. We can try to fight it by changing bad habits, but if results are not satisfying, consultation with a specialist should be the next step. We strongly recommend getting evaluated by a licensed physical therapist. Appropriate exercises and modern manual therapy techniques can work wonders, but of course, the patient’s cooperation is absolutely necessary to avoid the reoccurrence of ailment in the future. We have to remember about maintaining a correct posture, changing shoes for the more comfortable, properly lifting and carrying our children, and, of course, increasing healthy physical activity.
What are other frequent conditions women complain of?
EK: Pain in the hips, knees, and shoulders. Painful hips are especially annoying because they prevent us from walking, squatting, or running. These problems can be related to repeated overloads, trauma, and degenerative changes. Unfortunately, women are more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Moreover, menopause can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Based on research, this problem affects as many as 40% of women over 50.
What about problems related to pregnancy or giving birth?
EK: Most of the issues related to pregnancy and the post-partum period can be successfully treated by a physical therapist. I believe that rehabilitation should be a part of prenatal and postpartum care. In France or Netherlands for example, women are entitled to postpartum rehabilitation fully covered by the insurance. Their politicians noticed that lack of proper treatment in this very important period of our life results in lower comfort of life and higher costs of medical treatment afterward. It is always better to prevent or start the right therapy once a problem occurs than wait until the condition worsens. I really hope that one day such standards will be introduced here, in the US. After giving birth, women struggle with pain, scars after a cesarean section, separation of abdominal muscles (called diastasis recti), back issues, and urinary incontinence. Doctors often do not refer patients to therapy, even though professional rehabilitation can alleviate all these problems if it is performed at the right time. After giving birth, every woman should go to a physical therapist for evaluation in order to improve her quality of life. Surgery for urinary incontinence, for example, can be avoided – good rehabilitation is enough.
While on the subject, I should mention that urinary incontinence is not only a problem of women after pregnancy. It can affect any of us, at any age, and can be effectively treated in our clinic. The modern Counterstrain technique we specialize in brings really great results. We already have a few patients who managed to get rid of incontinence – not only women!
What advice can you give to women?
EK: To take really good care of your health. If you experience any problems, do not delay treatment. If left untreated, ailments will not disappear by themselves and will only get worse over time. Most of them can be treated with the help of professional physical therapy.