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Gait Patterns and Intra-articular Hip Injury

Gait Patterns and Intra-articular Hip Injury

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner. Ginger will be presenting her Hip Labrum Injuries course in Houston in 2015!

Ginger Garner

One of the easiest ways to determine if someone is in pain is to watch the way they move. And perhaps the most commonly observed and universal movement pattern is gait. From a subtle loss of trunk rotation or pelvic translation to a gross loss of reciprocal gait, a dynamic assessment of walking is a very valuable tool in the physical therapist’s toolbox.

In evaluation of the hip, gait assessment is a critical element of the physical therapy exam. Pain-free ambulation is an essential part of measuring a person’s quality of life (QOL) and is a clinically significant functional outcome measure. Loss of hip extension and knee hyperextension prior to or at heel strike are part of several self-limiting patterns that arise from intra-articular hip injury. Dynamic gait assessment can give the therapist distinct clues as to hip pathophysiology etiology.

It was previously assumed that surgery to correct intra-articular pathology, such as in CAM-based femoracetabular impingement (FAI), would result in correction of deficiencies in gait patterning. CAM FAI limits and creates pain in the direction of hip osteokinematic flexion, adduction, and internal rotation range of motion and is caused by a lack of sphericity of the femoral head and neck, causing impingement of the labrum and/or chondral contact at the acetabulum.

A recent study published in 2013 in Gait and Posture, shows that previous assumptions about gait are incorrect. The study compared the gait of healthy controls to those with FAI and hypothesized that gait abnormalities would resolve status post surgery.

Gait measures were obtained both preoperatively and postoperatively. Researchers were surprised to find that gait abnormalities found presurgically did not automatically resolve postsurgically. Another pertinent finding is that the surgical patients not only retained their old faulty antalgic gait patterns and habits, they also adopted new abnormalities that resulted from surgical intervention, such as those arising from scar tissue, soft tissue pathology, neuromuscular patterning, or loss of arthrokinematic motion in the hip. These findings underscores the importance of early intervention via physical therapy for both operative and nonoperative patients if we want our patients to enjoy or return to a high quality of life.

Although the patients in the study who underwent FAI surgery did demonstrate decreased pain, nonoptimal preoperative gait patterns that persist postoperatively can put these patients at risk for reinjury (e.g. labral retears) or related cobmorbidities like pelvic pain, back pain, or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Further, a separate study published in 2009 established the presence of altered hip and pelvic biomechanics during gait, finding that those with hip FAI had decreased peak hip abduction, attenuated pelvic frontal ROM or translation, and less sagittal ROM than controls. Soft tissue restriction including scar tissue from previous or current surgeries, myofascial restriction, or neuromuscular patterning problems are, again, all important variables which must be differentially diagnosed for their possible contribution to the loss of ROM and function. Other considerations that can alter gait pattern and increase injury or reinjury risk assessment of capsular mobility, ligamentous integrity, and sacroiliac joint contributions to limited hip ROM and excursion.

To learn more about nonoperative and operative hip labral and FAI management, check out faculty member Ginger Garner's continuing education course on Extra-Articular Pelvic and Hip Labrum Injury: Differential Diagnosis and Integrative Management. The next opportunity to take the course is March of 2015 in Houston.

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Resurfacing after Hip Labral Surgery

Resurfacing after Hip Labral Surgery

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner. Ginger will be presenting her Hip Labrum Injuries course in Houston in March!

Ginger Garner

Lots of you have reached out with questions about “best care” practices after hip surgery. There isn’t a whole lot in scientific literature written about rehab, and over many months of fielding questions on my closed HIP LABRAL PHYSIOTHERAPY FB page, I am finally ready to share what Best Care Practices after Hip Labral Surgery may look like.

Today is Post 1 of this series, which will follow me day-by-day, week-by-week, through the highs and lows of my recovery and rehabilitation. Here we go!

First, “What IS Hip Labral Surgery?”

A relatively new term, the surgery is presently called “Hip Preservation.” However I like to call a spade a spade – this surgery is a bona fide hip reconstruction.

This surgery is a major undertaking for surgeon and patient and is constantly charting new territory in surgical techniques and discoveries. A brilliant way to preserve the hip joint, a surgeon is charged with essentially piecing the hip back together and reshaping it to work better than before surgery. It comes with risks AND benefits, many of which I will address in posts to come. It requires serious dedication and a wicked good physical therapist to get you back to fighting shape after surgery. But success begins with choosing a good surgeon who is a specialist in this type of surgery (more on that later).

Not a hip replacement, hip labral surgery rarely ONLY consists of repair of the labrum. Most of the time, a torn hip labrum is an issue secondary to a whole slew of hip disorders that make up a quagmire of highly technical and complex systems that converge during hip reconstruction. Whew, that was a mouthful.

A few of those technical things include hip dysplasia, impingement syndromes (and oh are there lots of different kinds we will be discussing), tendinosis, bursitis, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, snapping hip phenomenon (internal and external), anteversion, retroversion, and well, that’s enough to get us started.

Passion for Hip Labral Rehab

Let me tell you that this surgery was everything I thought it was going to be, and a hell (there’s just no other way to put it) of a lot more. I would have LOVED to avoid surgery, and heck, to avoid the injury that led to surgery – because I don’t know a single person who would prefer to gain clinical expertise by actually suffering through the injury or surgery. But alas, adversity is often what makes us better.

As you may guess, I did experience a single traumatic injury – which then proceeded to give birth to a perpetually poorly behaved, havoc-wreaking monster of a chronic condition. The funny thing was before the injury, my area of clinical expertise was ALREADY orthopaedics and women’s health. You can see I was kind of in for a colossal butt-kicking lesson from the universe. Oh the irony…

I did try to prepare myself for the road to recovery though. Read my post on Shutting Down to Move Forward: The Therapist Becomes the Patient.

But trust me, I would rather NOT have gleaned clinical expertise on hip labral and pelvic injury through personal tragedy.

Nonetheless, I knew that my journey from hip reconstructive surgery back to health, was going to help more than just me. I could use it to help so many others who wrestle with that same monster.

But yea, there are a few challenges to recovery:

  • I am mother. Of three boys. Ranging in age from 3-9.
  • I was/still am trying to finish my doctorate.
  • I completed a book chapter for a colleague’s new text on Fostering Creativity in Rehabilitation and a research manuscript during early post-op.
  • I had to maintain a full teaching schedule that required walking and stair climbing (which I couldn’t do) and lots of standing (which I also could not do).
  • The final straw was, midway through rehab, my oldest son received a special needs diagnosis.

Nevermind having clean laundry and healthy meals to foster healing (and maintain sanity). I mean, a human can only do so much. The point is – I didn’t live tweet or post about my recovery in real time.

The Bright Side

The good side though – is my delay in posting has given me much needed time to reflect on what variables are most critical to the recovery process.

If you are considering hip labral surgery, please read Top Five Must Have Hip Labral Surgery Tips to help you prepare.

Other colleagues I know have released blog series in real time, a chronicle to their injury and recovery. Shelly Prosko and her traumatic Achilles Tendon rupture, is one of those colleagues. Also a physioyogi, I highly recommend Shelly’s series on her recovery. Read here or cut and paste: http://www.gingergarner.com/2014/10/28/medical-therapeutic-yoga-achilles-tendon-rupture-missing-link-rehabilitation/

Now onward and forward, I am (finally) sitting down to write, 5 and a half months AFTER my surgery.

I hope you’ll join me on my journey through Hip Preservation, er, Reconstruction Surgery and that, most of all, you’ll find something that will inspire you to more complete healing and recovery.

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Four “Must Know” Tips for Identifying Hip Labral Injuries

Four “Must Know” Tips for Identifying Hip Labral Injuries

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner. Ginger will be presenting her Hip Labrum Injuries course in Houston in March!

Ginger Garner

1. Early Intervention Is Key

Acetabular labral tears are reported to be a major cause of hip dysfunction in young patients and a primary precursor to hip osteoarthritis. New technology is helping with improved identification of tears, however the time of injury to diagnosis is still on average 2.5 years, making long-term prognosis for hip preservation poor.

Because of the lengthy delay many patients are still experiencing, the importance of early intervention cannot be overemphasized.

2. Getting the Best Outcomes: Patient Stories & Details Matter

Patient stories, the subjective reports of the individual, are incredibly important in aiding diagnosis of a hip labral tear. Knowing the morphological classification and common areas for tears in the hip labrum is also important, especially when it comes to identifying and managing adverse biomechanical stressors, such as anterior joint loading in the hip. Quite often in conservative treatment of hip labral injury, it is more important to change or retrain nonoptimal movement strategies rather than to issue exercise, strengthen, or elongate tissues.

Up to 55% of active people with mechanical hip pain are typically confirmed as having acetabular hip labral (ALT) tears, which is affirmed across several research studies. And since 2003, the most commonly cited area of hip pain for labral tears is anterior, followed by lateral, then posterior.

3. Study History to Affect the Future

Suzuki, in 1986, described the acetabular labral tear arthroscopically for the first time, while Altenburg, in 1977, documented the first report of “nontraumatic tearing of the acetabular labrum,” according to Groh and Herrara 2009, Schmerl 2005, and Altenburg 1977. And yet, it is possible for an ALT to go undiagnosed and pain-free, since up to 96% of cadaver hips with a mean age of 78 years old are found to have ALT in the anterosuperior quadrant.

A paucity of studies existed on hip disorders from 1977-2011, having located approximately 70 during early research on the topic. Plante et al (2011) and Margo et al (2003) confirm these findings, stating “there is no clear consensus on diagnosis or terminology” (concerning ALT).However, the increasing interest in ALT is a welcome phenomenon, and in a a second literature review from 2011 to present I located and reviewed over 100 new studies relating to ALT and its often comorbid sister condition, femoracetabular impingement (FAI).

4. What Matters Most in Symptomology?

There are some moderately reliable tests that have undergone scrutiny as to their sensitivity (SN) and specificity (SP) for clinical utility and validity; however, that is a discussion for another post. For now, what matters most in diagnosing ALT?

The short answer is the patient story. Listen to a patient’s onset of symptoms and mechanism of injury (if there is one, oftentimes there isn’t unless the mechanism is pregnancy or postpartum-related. For more information, read my post on postpartum hip labral injury risk. Listen carefully the most typical (and reliable) symptomology for a suspected ALT. Those symptoms would include:

  • Pain in the groin (reported 95-100% SN)
  • Mechanical symptoms, which can include sharp pain, clicking, locking or catching, or giving way (reported 85-100% SP, SN, respectively)
  • Minor hip ROM (range of motion) limitations (same SP and SN as above)

Could There Be a Future Hip Labral Injury (HLI) Scale?

The last symptom that can be incredibly telling (read: reveal the degree of functional impairment and degree of ALT), is night pain. Similar to the RTC impingement degrees of impairment (Stages l I, II, and III), ALT injury is similar. Once a patient’s sleep is interrupted, and is accompanied by any of the symptoms found above, the risk of their having an ALT or other intra-articular (internal) hip derangement is high. Night pain could then be characterized by the most impaired stage, Stage III, lending itself to the possibility of a future HLI Scale.

The findings reported in this post are supported by more than two dozen references, which are a part of the literature review included in the Hip Labral Injury and Differential Diagnosis course that Ginger authored and teaches for Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute.

To learn more about nonoperative and operative hip labral and FAI management, check out faculty member Ginger Garner's continuing education course on Extra-Articular Pelvic and Hip Labrum Injury: Differential Diagnosis and Integrative Management. The next opportunity to take the course is March of 2015 in Houston.


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Diastasis Recti Abdominis: A Narrative Review

Diastasis Recti Abdominis: A Narrative Review

The following post comes to us in part from Ginger Garner, PT, ATC, PYT, who teaches three yoga courses for Herman & Wallace; Yoga for Pelvic Pain, Yoga as Medicine for Pregnancy, and Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Postpartum. Check out her poster at the Combined Sections Meeting this weekend in Anaheim!

Maternal health care in the United States is abysmal. Especially wretched is care and support of women post-partum. Our insurance system is partially to blame by dictating that women receive only one visit with the provider who participated in the delivery of their baby 6 weeks after the baby is born, no matter the method of delivery. This is often after most of the scary, unexpected side effects of delivery, like heavy bleeding, nipple pain, urinary incontinence, difficulty with bowel movements, scar pain and tremendous mood swings have begun to ease. Only the women who are the most persistent, or those who have chosen unique care models (like out of hospital births with midwives), seem to get real support post-partum, leaving marginalized and less self-driven women to fend for themselves.

What if research could show that immediately treating some of the side effects of birth, like diastasis recti abdominus, which occurs in 50-60% of post-partum women, could result in improved outcomes in the long run? What if someone could prove that retraining and strengthening the abdominal wall as part of a biopsychosocial model empowering women could change the costly effects of prolapse and urinary incontinence treatment later on in life? What if that research aimed to show that treating women in partnership will all care providers was the most effective? These are big questions, but through research beginning with Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA), some Women’s Health Physical Therapists trained in Medical Therapeutic Yoga are hoping to highlight some answers.

At CSM in San Diego next month, these researchers (listed below) are presenting a poster via the Section on Women’s Health showcasing their paper, Diastasis Recti Abdominis: A Narrative Review. They found that good, solid research focusing on the co-morbidities and treatment of DRA is really lacking. Most well-done studies focus on the reliability and validity of measurement techniques, showing that calipers and ultrasound are the most valid and reliable ways to measure the gap. There is not even agreement on what precise measurement technically constitutes a DRA, though most agree that normal inter-recti distance is 15-25mm supraumbilically among parous females with digital calipers. (Chiarello 2013).

Besides the obvious cosmetic and general strengthening concerns, why do we care about physical therapy care for a post-partum DRA? Spitznagle’s retrospective chart review of women presenting for gynecological care with a mean age of 52 found that 52% had DRA and 66% of them had a least one support-related pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Those with DRA were more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. Another study by Parker found a DRA prevalence of 74.4% among women with back or pelvic area pain who had delivered at least one child and sought PT. They found a significant difference in VAS pain levels in those with DRA and abdominal or pelvic pain compared to those without DRA. More well-done, prospective studies are really needed to correlate these sequalea in later life to DRA post-partum.

The topic of how to retrain the abdominal wall to restore optimal function and cosmetic appearance is hot in the blogosphere right now. Does it matter if the width of the diastasis recti is reduced? Or is it a matter of having tension in the linea alba as the clinician sinks his/her fingers toward the spine? Biomechanically we know that in order to improve stiffness in the trunk, we need synergistic and symmetrical firing of the diaphragm, transversus abdominis, multifidus and the pelvic floor with proper timing and contraction of the hip and external abdominal muscles. Benjamin completed a review of the research on the effects of exercise in the antenatal and postnatal periods and concluded that antenatal exercise may be protective against the formation of a DRA, but that the available studies are of such poor quality and varied in the way that abdominal/core strengthening was applied in the post-partum population, that it is impossible to tell how or why exercise may or may not help with DRA!

There is clearly a huge hole in the literature and as usual, new mothers are suffering. Women are spending money on programs they find on the internet that are not backed by solid research, because there is not any! Regarding DRA, post-partum women in our country desperately need well-done, high quality studies promoting a specific and well-described exercise for healing. In addition, in our patriarchal health care model, we need to show without a shadow of a doubt that treating post-partum muscle weakness, body mechanics issues and DRA is essential for saving money in the long run on prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery, as well as decreasing expenditure on back pain treatments.

If our discipline could provide this research, ALL women could have access to personal, post-partum recovery. As an established part of the health care system and with longer treatment times and the chance to get to know our patients better, physical therapists are the IDEAL healthcare practitioners to ensure that post-partum women are getting adequate physical retraining, but also psycho-social support that is so lacking in the United States.

The Women’s Health Poster Presentations at CSM in Anaheim will be on Saturday, Feb 20 from 1-3PM. I look forward to meeting with some of you and visiting about what you are working on to further the cause of improving maternal health care and DRA treatment.

Ginger Garner PT, ATC, PYT, Professional Yoga Therapy Institute, Emerald Isle, NC
Elizabeth Trausch, DPT, PYT Des Moines University, Des Moines IA
Stefanie Foster, PT, PYT Asana with Intelligence, Houston, TX
Paige Raffo, PT, PYT, CPI, Balance+Flow Physio, Bellevue, WA
Janet Drake, PT, LCCE, FACCE, PYT, Central Bucks Physical Therapy, Doylestown, PA
Stacie Razzino, PT, PYT, Free Motion Physical Therapy, Melbourne, FL
Blog post by Libby Trausch, DPT

Spitznagle T, Leong F, Van Dillen L, Prevalence of diastasis recti abdominis in a urogynecological patient population, International Urogynecology Journal. 2007; 18: 321-328.
Chiarello CM, Mcauley JA. Concurrent validity of calipers and ultrasound imaging to measure interrecti distance. Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013; 43(7): 495-503
Benjamin DR, et al., Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review. Physiotherapy. 2014 Mar;100(1):1-8.

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Hyaluronic Acid for Vaginal Dryness

Hyaluronic Acid for Vaginal Dryness

This post was written by H&W instructor Allison Ariail PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, BCB-PMD, PRPC, who will be presenting Pelvic Floor Level 2B in Houston at the end of February.

Allison Ariail

Dyspareunia, or pain during or after intercourse, can be very upsetting and frustrating to a woman. One cause of dyspareunia is vaginal dryness. As estrogen levels decrease, the vaginal tissues can have less moisture, elasticity, and become thinner. This not only can affect postmenopausal women, but also post-partum women, and women who are on estrogen-blocking medication due to cancer or for treatment of fibroids. One of the common and effective treatments for this vaginal dryness includes estrogen creams, or hormone replacement. However, what does a woman do if she is not able to use an estrogen cream, due to an estrogen receptor positive cancer? One possibility is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally found throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissue. You may be more familiar with hyaluronic acid as the substance injected into joints for osteoarthritis. However, there have been some recent published studies comparing the use of hyaluronic acid to estrogen replacement.

In 2011, Ekin et al. published a study comparing the use of hyaluronic acid vaginal tablets with estradiol vaginal tablets. Two groups of postmenopausal women with atrophic vaginitis were studied. One group used estradiol vaginal tablets (n=21) for 8 weeks, while the other group used hyaluronic acid tablets (n=21) for 8 weeks. Outcomes consisted of the degree of vaginal atrophy, vaginal pH, vaginal maturation index, and a self-assessed 4-point scale. Both groups had relief of vaginal symptoms, improved epithelial atrophy, decreased vaginal pH, and increased maturation of the vaginal epithelium. The group on estradiol did have greater improvements, however, it was determined that the hyaluronic acid vaginal tablets was effective enough to be considered an alternative treatment for those who wanted to avoid the use of a local estrogen treatment.

In 2013, Chen et al. published a study comparing the use of hyaluronic acid gel to estriol cream. Women were randomized into two groups, using the hyaluronic acid vaginal gel, or the use of estriol cream (n=72 each group) for 30 days. Outcome measures included a visual analog scale for vaginal dryness, and three other vaginal symptoms. Also measured were lab tests of the vaginal micro-ecosystem, vaginal pH, vaginal US, and incidence of adverse events. Results showed both groups had improvement without a statistically significant difference between the groups.

These two studies show that hyaluronic acid may be an alternative to hormone replacement. This is good news for women who suffer from vaginal dryness and cannot use hormone replacement therapy, or even localized hormone replacement therapy due to the use of anti-estrogen medications! The improvement of vaginal dryness can significantly improve dyspareunia symptoms for many women. To learn more about dyspareunia, as well as other causes of pelvic pain, join me in Houston for PF2B!


Chen, J., Geng, L., Song, X., Li, H., Giordan, N., & Liao, Q. (2013). Evaluation of the Efficacy and Safety of Hyaluronic Acid Vaginal Gel to Ease Vaginal Dryness: A Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled, Open?Label, Parallel?Group, Clinical Trial. The journal of sexual medicine, 10(6), 1575-1584.

Ekin, M., Ya?ar, L., Savan, K., Temur, M., Uhri, M., Gencer, I., & K?vanç, E. (2011). The comparison of hyaluronic acid vaginal tablets with estradiol vaginal tablets in the treatment of atrophic vaginitis: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 283(3), 539-543.

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This post was written by Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, PRPC, BCB-PMD. You can catch Allison teaching the Pelvic Floor Level 1 course in May in Los Angeles.

Blog by  Allison Ariail

Dysmenorrhea is the medical term used for painful menstruation. Symptoms usually begin 1 or 2 days before or the first day of menstruation and include headache, low back and thigh pain, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive fatigue. Sixty percent of women suffer from dysmenorrhea, with many of these women being incapacitated for up to 3 days each month due to symptoms. There are two types of dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is not caused from another disorder or disease. Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is due to a disorder in the pelvic organs including endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical stenosis, or infection. In the past, treatment approaches for primary dysmenorrhea have included the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, hormonal contraceptives, vitamins, and acupuncture. There have not been many studies that look at how physical activity influences the degree of pain for women with primary Dysmenorrhea. However, clinical experience has shown me that some women who begin exercising regularly decrease their dysmenorrhea symptoms compared to what they previously experienced. So I have done a search to find some studies that address this matter.

A Cochrane review found only one study that used a control group. In this study, the experimental group participated in a 12-week walking or jogging program at 70-80% of heart rate range, 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Moos’ Menstrual Distress Inventory was used to measure outcomes. This was given pre-training, post-training, and during the premenstrual and inter-menstrual phases for the three hormonal cycles measured. There were significant lower scores on the Moos’ Menstrual Distress Inventory during the menstrual phase in the group that participated in exercise compared to the control group. Additionally, there was a negative linear trend in scores over the three observed cycles for the training group with no linear trend seen in the control group.1 So the exercise group lessoned the degree of their symptoms over the three months by participating in the walking program!

A study by Maceno de Araujo et al. looked at the severity of primary dysmenorrhea symptoms before and after participating in a two month Pilates exercise regimen 2 times per week for 60 minutes. Outcome measures used included visual analog scale and McGill Pain Questionnaire. Although this study did not use a control group and the number of participants was low (n=10), it did show significant changes in pain scores during menstruation when comparing little to no exercise to a regular exercise program of Pilates. Pain scores due to menstruation prior to the study were 7.89 ± 1.96, and dropped to 2.56 ± .56 with the exercise program!

I found these articles interesting and began to wonder how many women we as therapists could help by knowing this information! I do not think that we as pelvic heath therapists are reaching this population of patient diagnoses. Yes, starting an exercise regimen, especially a walking program, sounds easy to us as physical therapists or occupational therapists. However, it can be daunting to a woman who has not previously participated in any type of exercise program. Meeting with some of these women who suffer from primary dysmenorrhea and evaluating any musculoskeletal dysfunctions that are present, then prescribing an appropriate exercise routine that is individualized for that patient can help the patient stay committed to the program. In finding this information, I am excited to pass it along to my patients and future patients in hopes of improving their life and lessening their discomforts! Join me to discuss this topic as well as others related to the pelvic floor in Los Angeles at PF1!

1. Brown J, Brown S. Exercise for dysmenorrhea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004142. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004142.pub2.

2. Macêdo de Araújo L; Nunes da Silva JM; Tavares Bastos W; Lima Venutra P. Pain improvement in women with primary dysmenorrhea treated with Pilates. Revista Dor. 2012; 13(2).

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The Hip & Pelvis: The Cornerstone of Movement Analysis

The Hip & Pelvis: The Cornerstone of Movement Analysis


This post was written by Steven Dischiavi, MPT, DPT, ATC, COMT, CSCS, who teaches the course Biomechanical Assessment of the Hip and Pelvis. You can catch Steve teaching this course in May at Duke University in Durham, NC.


One thing that jumps out at me when treating a professional athlete, is that they have “a guy or gal” for everything! Most high profile athletes have a physical therapist, athletic trainer, acupuncturist, nutritionist, massage therapist, personal trainers for speed, power, cross fit, and pretty much “a guy or gal” for anything that has something to do with athletic performance or injury prevention. In most recent years I have been hearing more and more that athletes use someone that can analyze their movement and develop corrective exercises for them. These professionals are not just physical therapists, but some are personal trainers, exercise physiologists, chiropractors, and so on…

This has clearly been leading to a paradigm shift in not only evaluation of the athlete, but more specifically how we treat our athletes and clients. The Functional Movement Assessment is a tool that is gaining more and more popularity. It identifies “movement dysfunction” and then sets out to manage these movement patterns. I am a firm believer in functional movement assessment, and I believe it does need a larger role in our profession…I believe this so strongly I have recently changed gears professionally and have accepted an assistant professor position on the Physical Therapy faculty at High Point University. I want to affect change from within!

That said this is a very slippery slope right now in our profession. There are many people that believe that functional assessment is necessary. These same people cannot agree on the best way to do this and the there is a paucity of evidence to support a specific method at this time. This has driven me to continue to push the envelope in how to assess human movement and what is the cornerstone of this philosophy. I think the cornerstone is the hip and pelvis. I know this is somewhat broad, but after working professional hockey for 10 years I saw first hand what the hip and pelvis brings to the table. This led me to integrate this cornerstone into all facets of my treatments with all types of clients, young, old, big, small, athletic human, non-athletic humans! It was a quantum leap when the evidence caught up to practice and we stopped taping the patella because we were able to wrap our heads around the fact that it’s the track moving under the train! This momentum continues, because I am in a state of the art biomechanics lab everyday watching and learning how we can extrapolate these concepts and continue to move forward and advance movement theory. This has also allowed me to see that there is still a need about how we treat movement dysfunction. Which has led me to continue to work on the concept of the Dynamic Integration of the Myofascial Sling Systems!

If you attend this course I think you will look at human movement a little differently. I think you’ll enjoy the creative ways we can activate particular muscle chains to integrate and coordinate complex movements with more efficiency.

Yes, Herman & Wallace traditionally focuses on the women’s health practitioner. This course gives women’s health practitioners more treatment options to go with their unbelievable manual therapy skill set. This course offers many therapeutic exercise options that can help control the neurologic changes they are creating with their clients. Past course participants from the women’s health arena have continuously commented that they have gained a new tool in their toolbox to address movement imbalances and a way to integrate more function into their exercise programs. The sports and ortho PT will really enjoy this course. It will challenge some of their current paradigms and stir up some lively conversation on functional movement assessment and how to treat movement dysfunction when identified. Sports/ortho PTs consistently report how refreshing it is to consider new things in the profession. These PTs will leave this course challenging some of the traditional approaches they have taken. The reports back to me are usually that the sports/ortho PTs have had fun at this course and look forward to trying what they have learned and performed in lab sessions and applying it with their clients. I look forward to having you in class and having some fun and trying a lot of new exercises and discussing how the assessment of human movement and how identifying movement dysfunction is the direction things are going. William Blake once said “what is now proven, was once only imagined!” I don’t think movement analysis is quite proven yet, but we’re definitely applying science to the art of practice!

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Convalescence and Mitohormesis

Convalescence and Mitohormesis

This post was written by Megan Pribyl MSPT, who teaches the course Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist. You can catch Megan teaching this course in June in Seattle.

Blog by Megan Pribyl MSPT Convalescence and mitohormesis…really big words that in a scientific way suggest “BALANCE”. In our modern world, there are many factors that influence the pervasive trend of being “on” or in perpetual “go mode”. We see the effects of this in clinical practice every day. The sympathetic system is in overdrive and the parasympathetic system is in a state of neglect and disrepair. And so we reflect on that word “balance” through the concepts of convalescence and mitohormesis.


“In the past, it was taken for granted that any illness would require a decent period of recovery after it had passed, a period of recuperation, of convalescence, without which recurrence was possible or likely.
Convalescence fell out of favor as powerful modern drugs emerged. It appeared that [antibiotics] and the steroid anti-inflammatories produced so dramatic a resolution of the old killer diseases… that all the time spent convalescing was no longer necessary.” (Bone, 2013)


How many of us take the time to convalesce after even a minor cold or flu? “Convalescence needs time, one of the hardest commodities now to find.” (Bone, 2013) We live in a culture where getting well FAST typically takes priority over getting well WELL.


On the flip-side of convalescence lies mitohormesis, or stress-response hormesis. Simply put, hormesis describes the beneficial effects of a treatment (or stressor) that at a higher intensity is harmful. Without mitohormesis, the driving, adaptive forces of life might lie dormant or find dysfuction. In a recent article (Ristow, 2014) mitohormesis is discussed: “Increasing evidence indicates that reactive oxygen species (ROS) do not only cause oxidative stress, but rather may function as signaling molecules that promote health by preventing or delaying a number of chronic diseases, and ultimately extend lifespan. While high levels of ROS are generally accepted to cause cellular damage and to promote aging, low levels of these may rather improve systemic defense mechanisms by inducing an adaptive response.


Relevant to nutritional trends, Tapia (2006) suggests this perspective: “it may be necessary…to engender a more sanguine perspective on organelle level physiology, as… such entities have an evolutionarily orchestrated capacity to self-regulate that may be pathologically disturbed by overzealous use of antioxidants, particularly in the healthy.” Think of mitohormesis as the cellular-level forces that spur change. Motivation….drive….exhilaration. These life-sprurring stressors include physical activity and glucose restriction among other interventions.


The natural world is full of contrasts; day and night, winter and summer, land and sea, sun and rain. These contrasts are not only essential in creating rhythm to our existence, but necessary as driving forces of life. But what happens when there is not a balance of activity and rest? What happens when our energy systems go haywire? What nutritional factors play a role in whether a client of yours will have a healing and helpful course of therapy or may struggle with the healing process? How might we frame our understanding of the importance of balance through the lens of nourishment?


March is “National Nutrition Month”! It’s a perfect time to register for our brand new continuing education course Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist to learn more about how nutrition impacts our clinical practice. To register for the course taking place in June in Seattle, click here.



Bone, K. Mills, S. (2013) Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy; Modern Herbal Medicine. Second Edition. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Gems, D., & Partridge, L. (2008). Stress-response hormesis and aging: "that which does not kill us makes us stronger". Cell Metab, 7(3), 200-203. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2008.01.001

Ristow, M., & Schmeisser, K. (2014). Mitohormesis: Promoting Health and Lifespan by Increased Levels of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Dose Response, 12(2), 288-341. doi: 10.2203/dose-response.13-035.Ristow

Tapia, P. C. (2006). Sublethal mitochondrial stress with an attendant stoichiometric augmentation of reactive oxygen species may precipitate many of the beneficial alterations in cellular physiology produced by caloric restriction, intermittent fasting, exercise and dietary phytonutrients: "Mitohormesis" for health and vitality. Med Hypotheses, 66(4), 832-843. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2005.09.009

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Low-Level Laser Therapy for Female Pelvic Floor Conditions: A New and Exciting Online Course

Low-Level Laser Therapy for Female Pelvic Floor Conditions: A New and Exciting Online Course

The following is a guest post from Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS owner of Renew Physical Therapy in New York, NY. Isa recently launched her new online course "Low Level Laser Therapy For Female Pelvic Pain Conditions" found at www.PelvicPainRelief/laser.

Physical therapists deal with chronic pain that can be problematic to treat and manage on a daily basis. There is an arsenal of tools, exercises and techniques at their disposal, but many times using a modality can help accelerate the pain-relieving process for their patients. Pelvic floor physical therapists in particular treat an extremely difficult type of chronic pain loosely classified under the umbrella term "pelvic pain." Pelvic pain can express itself as vulvodynia, clitorodynia, provoked vestibulodynia, pudendal nerve neuralgiavaginismus and/or dyspareunia. These conditions are common, with 1 in 3 women suffering from pelvic and/or sexual pain in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 30 million suffer from this silent epidemic. As physical therapists we are on the first line of defense and we must be prepared to provide the pain relief that these women so desperately seek.

Secret Weapon for Pelvic Pain Is Finally Here

Chronic pelvic pain is very different from other types of pain because it's intimately connected to our emotional, spiritual and psychological states, and can involve the nervous, endocrine, visceral, gynecological, urological and muscular systems. It can be very difficult to treat, and can require anywhere from six months to one year of physical therapy, depending on patient presentation and history.

This lengthy course of treatment requires a fresh approach to therapy and modalities. When I started treating this population I had many difficulties controlling their pain and I had to think differently. Electrical stimulation and ultrasound were not working as well as I'd hoped, providing insufficient pain relief to these patients. I needed a modality that, when incorporated with my pelvic pain treatment, could help produce immediate and long-lasting pain-relieving effects. I needed a modality that could significantly decrease pain within one session, and that my patients could believe in because of the results.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) proved to be my secret weapon when treating women with chronic pelvic pain. (I frequently call it "light therapy," because many patients don't like the term "laser.") I have been successfully using light therapy for nearly ten years. It helped my patients keep their pain at bay, and many request that I use it as part of their therapy. I have had incredible patient outcomes when I use LLLT. Of course, for light therapy to work with this difficult population a foundational knowledge and established protocols are required.

LLLT was approved by the FDA in 2002. At that time, the modality was hailed by the New England Patriots and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others, for its ability to help top athletes quickly return from injury. Endorsements from these organizations piqued my interest and I decided to research its principles. I now know firsthand about the miraculous effects of LLLT. From my own personal experience and from treating thousands of patients I realized that LLLT could be used on many levels.

LLLT is unique: it is a cellular bio-stimulator and is used to increase vitality of cells as well as processes that occur within the cell. The goal with LLLT is to stimulate health and vitality within the cell to produce pain relief, collagen synthesis, anti-inflammatory effects, and endorphin production. Pain- relieving results can be felt in the first visit.

New Look at Low-Level Laser Therapy

My ten years of experience using LLLT have led me to develop low-level laser protocols for female pelvic floor conditions. These protocols are extremely useful for any practitioners wanting to purchase a laser as a new pain-relieving modality for their clinic.

LLLT has changed the way I treat all pain syndromes. It's had such a positive impact that I've created laser protocols for vulvodynia, scar and bladder pain. I also created a special class for the Herman and Wallace Institute program for physical therapists who treat chronic pelvic pain. I encourage any colleagues specializing in this population to investigate this remarkable modality and to attend the online class. If you are looking for something different and a modality that will change the way you treat, come and learn how to use if effectively. My Low-Level Laser Therapy for Female Pelvic Floor Conditions online course incorporates evidence-based science into the low-level laser protocols that you can bring into your practice immediately. This online continuing educational course is designed to provide a thorough introduction to LLLT and its application to female pelvic pain conditions. It is approved for 13 CEU’s and contains ten modules. All ten modules provide step-by-step treatment protocols, videos and PowerPoints. This online class includes protocols for bladder pain, scar pain, coccyx pain, vulvodynia, clitorodynia, provoked vestibulodynia, pudendal nerve neuralgia, vaginismus and dyspareunia.

This new and exciting online class will put you and your practice on the forefront finally providing pain relief for your patients that lasts and improves your outcome measures.

For more info on the low-level laser online training class for female pelvic floor conditions go to www.PelvicPainRelief/laser.

Basford et al. Laser therapy: a randomized, controlled trial of the effects of low-intensity Nd:YAG laser irradiation on musculoskeletal back pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil (1999) vol. 80 (6) pp. 647-52.

Bjordal et al. A systematic review of low level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. Aust J Physiother (2003) vol. 49 (2) pp. 107-16.

Chow et al. The effect of 300 mW, 830 nm laser on chronic neck pain: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Pain (2006) vol. 124 (1-2) pp. 201-10.

Harlow BL, Kunitz CG, Nguyen RHN, et al. Prevalence of symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of vulvodynia: population-based estimates from 2 geographic regions. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014; 210:40.

Kostantinovic et al. Low level laser therapy for acute neck pain with radiculopathy: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study. Pain Medicine (2010) vol. 11 pp. 1169-1178.

Mathias SD1, Kuppermann M, Liberman RF, et al. Chronic pelvic pain: prevalence, health-related quality of life, and economic correlates. Obstet Gynecol. 1996;87(3):321–327.

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Dr. Sarah Capodagli, DPT - Herman & Wallace's Featured Practitioner of the Week!

Dr. Sarah Capodagli, DPT - Herman & Wallace's Featured Practitioner of the Week!

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Capodagli, DPT, our featured practitioner of the week! Dr. Capodagli owns and operates CorrEra Physical Therapy, and she is in the process of expanding her practice in Buffalo, NY. We were curious to hear more from her about running a practice in Buffalo, and Sarah was kind enough to write in. Thanks, Sarah!

Dr. Sarah Capodagli, DPTAlthough Buffalo is considered the second largest city in the state of New York, we often operate like a small town. We value community and for just about any business, the best marketing tool is word of mouth. If you need a new roof, new car, or a good doctor, well, ask around and I guarantee that you will find someone who “knows a guy,” to help or advise. I cannot speak for every city, though when I think of Buffalo, NY, I think of family. When you see your family in need, you help.

A few years ago I was working in a large oncology hospital and one of my primary roles was running the pelvic floor rehabilitation program for men living with or being treated for prostate cancer. I loved this work; however, I saw greater need in our community for not only the proper conservative care and treatment, but also for the information about pelvic health to be shared more publicly with men and women. Although opening my own clinic in a suburb of this “City of Good Neighbors” was not always the plan, when given the opportunity to grow into my own practice by a chiropractor friend, I jumped at the chance and have never looked back. It was a big jump, but for me, the fear of regret in never trying was so much worse than the fear of failure.

The greatest challenge was in actually starting my practice and beginning to educate the community and physicians. In a larger metropolis there is more awareness of this specialty and referrals come more naturally when conservative options are made known to patients. In the beginning I reached out to a mentor, utilized many tools available on the Herman & Wallace website, held free community events, and spent my first few months focused on networking. Once introduced to some fabulously conservative docs, birthing professionals, and physical therapists who were aware of the benefits of pelvic floor rehab, I really started to see the growth. I became an advocate for patients – a navigator in this sometimes confusing and frustrating system. People want conservative options and when happy patients return to their physicians with improved symptoms and quality of life, well, now your reputation establishes you as one of the “go-to” practitioners in the community.

Though patience and persistence are crucial in this process of growth, I’m also a firm believer that, as Dr. Francis Peabody stated, “the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” This belief is what sets me apart, and in a small community this is what really matters. One of my favorite books is The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John D. Mann. I always want my practice and the growth of my business to reflect the strategies of value, service, influence, and authenticity emphasized in this story. In a community where community is valued, I truly believe that if you stay teachable and positive, the care you put into your practice will always pay off.

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