You Have Two Choices…

January 30, 2011

General Information, Prevention

Chronic pain and chronic conditions often keep people from doing what they love to do.  It may be painful or hurt to do certain activities.  A once-loved sport or activity can become something that gets avoided.  What do you do when you start to notice a once-loved activity is becoming painful or difficult to do?  See a physical therapist.

“I thought it would just go away on its own.”

I’ve had countless patients recount that their problems often start as small, nagging pains that eventually evolve to a level of pain that causes them to avoid physical activity all together.  Pain can start as occasional and progress to being there all the time and even at times when the aggravating activity is over.   Elbow or back pain that keeps a golfer from playing… knee pain that stops a runner in their tracks… back pain that keeps someone away from yoga… chronic ankle sprains that affect basketball players.  I’ve had patients in all of these situations.  I hope to see people when they are just “occasionally” having the pain with an activity, but I often see people only after they are in the chronic phase  (problem sticking around more than 6 months).  At this point they have usually stopped the aggravating activity all together.  Physical therapy can help someone in any phase of an injury: acutely (<6 months duration) or chronically (>6 months duration).  It’s best to get help right away, but maybe you didn’t know about physical therapy or who to reach out to… so now the problem is “chronic.”

In dealing with chronic problems and pain, such as arthritis, you have two choices.  You can either stay moving or mobile to be healthy, or avoid activity all together because everything is “painful.”  As I’ve discussed previously, the benefits of exercise are widespread.  Every system in our body needs movement to stay healthy, especially the musculoskeletal system.  Inactivity results in thinning of a joint’s cartilage and it becomes less resistant to joint forces.  The right amount of activity stimulates cartilage and keeps it healthy.  The less active someone is, the faster his/her cartilage will degenerate, resulting in stiffer and more painful joints.  What develops is a painful cycle of inactivity leading to joint breakdown leading to more pain and more inactivity.

Out of those two choices, I think you know which one I’m for.  If you need help determining what activity you can do, what exercise will help you improve joint health, or what activities to avoid to improve and maintain joint health, see a physical therapist.




Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Specialist at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

My name is Monique Serpas, PT, DPT, OCS. I am a physical therapist and board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist practicing at the Southeast Louisiana Healthcare System in New Orleans, LA. I realize how difficult it can be to overcome an injury or manage a chronic condition and am focused on helping my clients achieve wellness through a physically active lifestyle. I treat orthopaedic, balance, and vestibular disorders and practice using a combination of hands-on manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and education. This enables my patients to assist in their own recovery and injury prevention. I also have developed fall prevention and golf-related rehab programs in the past. I hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Concordia University Wisconsin (2008) and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University (2004). I am a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Louisiana Physical Therapy Association (LPTA), and the Orthopaedic and Neurology sections of the APTA.

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Physical Therapist at New Orleans' Touro Infirmary. I give my patients the information they need to live well.
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