Q&A w/ a Therapist: Do I need surgery if I have arthritis?

Question: My x-ray or MRI shows arthritis; do I need surgery?

Answer: In short, no. Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis is defined as degenerative changes to the joint surface, or cartilage, leading to irritation of the underlying bone. This is a normal and typical part of aging.  In fact, a human being starts to develop arthritis in their spine in their early 20’s. So, we all may have this to some extent. Meanwhile, studies will show that there is low correlation between findings on diagnostic imaging and pain levels. In fact, up to 70% of people with findings on their x-ray or MRI do not have associated pain (Bhattacharyya et al., 2003; Boden et al., 1990). Therefore, a finding of arthritis just confirms that you are over the age of 20. If you have pain in an area and have diagnostic imaging performed (X-ray, MRI, CT scan) your doctor is using this information to the best of his or her ability to determine a probable cause of pain. However, just like anything else, x-rays and MRI’s have limitations, they are only one snapshot in time. Contributing factors that will not be shown on the image include nerve sensitivities, joint and muscle tension/tightness, abnormal posture, and abnormal movement patterns. That is where a thorough exam from your physical therapist can help (and keep you away from having to get surgery). A finding of arthritis alone does not indicate that this is the definite cause of your pain, and certainly does not necessarily mean that you have to live in pain or need surgery.

If you have questions or concerns, call and schedule a free screening with Choice Therapy today at 218.440.1548! Your life. Your health. Your Choice!

– Jake Kremer (PT, DPT, FIT, CSCS – Bemidji, MN Clinic)

Better Speech and Hearing Month: Finding Help for Communication Disorders

Did you know that according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), 69% say parents of young children are not aware of the early warning signs of speech/language disorders?

So, what can you do? By addressing the symptoms of communication disorders early, treatment is often less expensive and takes less time (ASHA). The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has provided some helpful tips in identifying speech/language disorders and what parents can do to help. If you have questions or concerns, schedule an appointment at Choice Therapy with one of our expert Speech-Language Pathologists at 218.440.1548!

Identify the Signs (Click the images to expand)

Choice Therapy – Speech Therapy Services:

  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Fluency disorders
  • Swallowing and feeding disorders
  • Oral motor skills
  • Language disorders
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Social Skills
  • Apraxia

Choice Therapy – Approach:

  • Choice Therapy offers Speech Therapy and vast knowledge of communication disorders for Pediatrics
  • Flexible scheduling/working longer hours to accommodate family’s busy schedules
  • Family education built into every session to allow your loved one to continue working on skills at home and making progress towards goals
  • Extensive knowledge with functional based goals and ability to effectively target those in therapy to increase their functional skills

Meet our Speech-Language Pathologists (Click on the name to learn more): 

Cabin Fever? Ways to keep your kids active INSIDE during the not so good weather!

Winters in Minnesota can be long and the springtime can bring unexpected weather where the children cannot go outside to play (rain, snow and everything in between). Here are some helpful tips/ideas for fun stimulating indoor activities for your active little ones.

Gross Motor

Gross motor activities are large, big movement activities that tire kids out quickly. Gross motor activities are good for core stability/strength to attend to seated activities. It is great for motor planning and coordination. Here are some creative ways to engage in gross motor activities while inside.

  • Animal walks: Bear crawl, crab, alligator, frog, inch worm, and donkey kicks.
  • Obstacle course: Set up various stations around the house that child has to crawl over/around or go through. Make it extra fun with imaginary play (for example: Don’t touch the hot Lava!)
  • Winter Olympics: With it being the year of the winter Olympics create various stations pretending to be an Olympic athlete. For example put on fuzzy socks and slide around the kitchen floor, pretending to be an Olympic skater or hockey player.
  • Kid Yoga: There are endless amounts of kid yoga videos and resources online. They are an excellent way to work on listening skills while engaging in various movements. This activity can also help with body awareness.
  • Beat the Clock: This is a fun imaginary play game that helps Mom/Dad/caregiver with everyday chores. Have child engage in various chores around the house such as carry a laundry basket to one room to another, set an appropriate amount of time on a timer and see if the child can complete the task, under the given time.
  • Dance Party: This is a fun activity for kids that love music. Play a kid friendly song and dance! For added fun, grab some pots/pans for percussion!

Fine Motor

Fine Motor is small movements with our hands. Fine motor movements are important for many things such as zipping up a coat, writing and picking up small objects. Here are some fun ideas to promote fine motor skills at home!

  • Ice cube painting: Put food coloring or paint in ice cube tray, once it starts to freeze place Popsicle stick into them. Grab a large piece of paper and paint away!
  • Snow coloring: This is a fun way to bring the winter inside! In a cooking sheet place a few handfuls of snow. In multiple spray bottles place water with food coloring. Have the child spray the snow with various colors. This is an excellent activity to promote hand strength!
  • Stringing: This is a fun and yummy activity! Using yarn, pipe cleaner, string or whatever is lying around the house. Have the child string cheerios onto to make a cereal necklace. This activity can be substituted for many different foods!
  • Lacing: Using any cardboard lying around the house, cut out a shape and punch small hole around the shape to make a homemade lacing board. The child can decorate or color it to make it more colorful. Using yarn or string has the child lace around the board.

Sensory Play

Sensory play is fun for all kids! Some kids may shy away from certain textures while others love it and that is okay! Here are some fun ways to expose your child to a variety of textures.

  • Edible play dough: There are tons of recipes online that you can tailor to your child’s likes. This is a really fun activity to incorporate different food and play.
  • Oobleck: This is an easy activity that one can use with easy household items. It is easy as 1 cup corn starch and ½ cup water.
  • Sensory gel pad: This is a great color sorting activity, by placing color button and clear hair gel in a Ziploc bag. Tape the top shut with duct tape. Using colored sharpies draw large circles on the front. The child can then push the color buttons through the gel into the colored circles.
  • Shaving cream: Fun and messy! You can have the child practice fine motor skills with writing letter and number.
  • Wash Dishes/trucks/Barbies: Have the child help with washing dishes or set them up with their own station to clean their toys.

-Chelsea Wiegand – Occupational Therapy Assistant (Choice Therapy Bemidji)

Simple Techniques when Lifting to Help Prevent Back Pain

The following are a few simple lifting techniques to help prevent back pain:

  1. Test the load.
    • Check to make sure you can safely lift the load.
    • If it is too heavy ask for help or use a dolly
  2. Maintain the natural curve in your back.
    • Bend at the hips and knees.
    • By being conscious of this posture the forces are evenly distributed.
  3. Utilize a wide base of support.
    • Will allow for better balance
    • Will decrease the risk for slipping.
  4. Hold and carry objects as close to you as possible.
    • Will reduce stress on your back.
  5. Do not twist body when carrying.
    • Move or change directions with your feet instead of your trunk.
  6. Utilize those 6 Pack Abs!
    • Tighten stomach muscles when lifting.
    • Allows the abs to assist with lifting and helps reduce the strain that is put on the low back.
  7. Plan before you lift.
    • How are you going to lift the object safely?
    • What path will you take and is it clear before you lift and carry the object?
  8. Lift with your legs!
    • Use the larger muscle groups to do the work so it will reduce the amount of force put on the low back.
  9. Communicate with your lifting partners.
    • Communication and good timing will decrease the chances of unexpected movements.
  10. If you can’t lift, Push instead of Pulling a load.
    • This allows you to use the large muscle groups to move the load as well as the weight of your body.
  11. Decrease repetitive lifting is possible.
    • Place items you use frequently at a height easy to reach.

Tips for Avoiding Falls: Stairs

Stairs pose a very serious fall risk, but there are ways you can make them safer. Read below to find out more.




  • Decrease clutter on and around your stairs; never store objects on steps.
  • Be sure to install and use hand railings when climbing up and down stairs. One railing is good – two are even better.
  • To avoid having to carry big, bulky assistive devices (like walkers and canes) up and down stairs, keep a separate device on each floor of your home.
  • If strength difficulties make it hard to climb stairs, try side-stepping up and down steps to conserve energy.



For more information on how to make your home safer, call Choice Therapy at 218-440-1548.



Myth: Any Health Care Professional can Perform Physical Therapy

Fact: Although 42% of consumers know that physical therapy can only be performed by a licensed physical therapist, 37% still believe other health care professionals can also administer physical therapy. Choice Therapy’s therapists pursue board certification in specific areas such as neurology, orthopedics, sports, or women’s health, for example.



Source: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/7-myths-about-physical-therapy

Myth – Physical Therapy is Only for Injuries and Accidents

Fact: Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. They are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions—from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain, to name a few.


Source: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/7-myths-about-physical-therapy

Is Physical Therapy Painful?

CHECK mark for choice therapy

Fact: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort during your treatment – including long-term or chronic pain. Choice Therapy works to keep pain to a minimum by working within your pain threshold to help you heal, restore movement, and regain function more quickly. One recent survey found that 71% of people who have never received treatment from a physical therapist think that physical therapy is painful. However, that number decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the last year.


Source: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/7-myths-about-physical-therapy

Does insurance cover oncology rehab?

Most insurance companies cover most, if not all, the costs associated with cancer rehabilitation. Just be sure to check with your provider about deductibles, co-pays, and limits. Choice Therapy accepts all insurance plans including Medicare and Medical Assistance, as well as private pay options.

If you have any questions, please give our office a call at 218-440-1548.


STAR Oncology Rehab – Treatment

A STAR-certified therapist can help a cancer patient cope with a wide variety of treatment-related conditions and symptoms. Some of these symptoms and conditions include:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Balance and gait issues

A patient may also be referred to a therapist certified in lymphedema treatment to reduce swelling in arms and legs.

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