According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care. In addition to restricting mobility and daily activities, chronic pain has been linked to dependence on opioids, anxiety and depression, and poor perceived health or reduced quality of life.
This past week, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for the Grand Island Physical Therapy Pain and Spine Center at 1300 S. Locust St.
The clinic opened in March and focuses on chronic pain, back pain and many other orthopedic conditions.
Chronic pain is a problem in Grand Island and throughout the United States. According to CDC reports, it has been linked to numerous physical and mental conditions and contributes to high health care costs and lost productivity. A limited number of studies, the CDC said, estimate the prevalence of chronic pain ranges from 11% to 40%.
Physical therapist Justin Kral of Grand Island Physical Therapy’s Balance Mobility Aquatic Therapy Center has relocated to its pain and spine center. Kral is certified in postural restoration and has 16 years of clinical outpatient experience, orthopedic rehabilitation, and multiple manual therapy techniques for joint and myofascial mobilization.
Kral received his doctorate in physical therapy from Creighton University in Omaha, where he graduated in 2004. He has been employed by Grand Island Physical Therapy for seven years and is one of fewer than 200 certified postural restoration therapists.
Postural restoration is a form of physical therapy treatment that encompasses the entire body. The main focus of the treatment is identifying and correcting common postural patterns found in the human body. As a postural restoration physical therapist, Kral is trained to recognize, assess and treat biomechanical asymmetries that develop due to restricted motion in the body. Postural restoration is an effective treatment approach for most musculoskeletal problems typically seen in physical therapy.
“It is a type of specific therapy that is designed to work for people who have had problems for years and years,” he said. “They had a knee or back surgery and they are still struggling with the pain after traditional therapy.”
In 2016, the CDC estimated 20.4% of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8% had high-impact chronic pain.
Kral said over the years he has had enough interaction with patients and physicians to where they came up with the idea for the Grand Island Physical Therapy Pain and Spine Center.
“We wanted a smaller clinic that was designed to be a pain and spine clinic so we could address people who are suffering from more chronic pain issues,” he said. “The design behind the clinic was to do a smaller and quieter clinic because if you suffer from pain, you don’t want to be in a busy or loud environment. A lot of time, people who deal with pain don’t want to be around other people.”
Kral said the clinic is a certified postural restoration clinic.
He described postural restoration as addressing how a person holds themselves in space.
“Everybody thinks that good posture is that rigid, barrel-chested, stick your chest out, and be upright and tall, but that is just a form of posture,” Kral said. “How you sit in a chair or at a computer is a form of posture. My job, if you have chronic back pain, is to figure out what a person does during their day and then try to figure out ways to get you out of the bad habits that you formed and get your body strengthened and to balance everything out.”
He said people are not designed to be sedentary, but are meant to get up and sit down and to walk and stand and to squat to allow their bodies to work well. Bad postural habits due to working conditions can throw a person’s posture out of balance and cause pain and discomfort.
Kral said the human body is not symmetrical. These asymmetries influence the way you stand, sit, walk and even breathe.
People develop a dominant hand and a dominant leg, causing bodies to develop patterns of limited motion to accommodate. This limited motion can cause imbalances in strength and chronic pain may develop.
“It is kind of like looking at a car out of alignment,” he said. “You can put a new tire on your car, but the alignment is still off and the tire eventually starts to wear out.”
Kral said treatment programs are designed to address specific asymmetries and restore more symmetrical, efficient motion. Central to treatment is breathing education. For example, patients will often breathe shallowly or more into one lung. Poor breathing not only greatly affects body system function from a medical standpoint, but also limits proper rib cage and spine movement.
Each patient is given an individualized treatment program allowing the patient to practice and learn techniques in the home. As patients improve with these techniques, he said, they will often experience greater freedom of movement, improved performance and decreased pain.
Kral said chronic pain isn’t limited to a certain age as he has treated both young people and older people at the clinic.
“What we do is try to look at things a little differently and try to focus on a little different approach, especially if traditional means have not been successful,” he said. “It is more of a holistic and systemic approach as we look at the whole body.”
The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, contact the clinic at 308-210-8753 or visit its website at www.grandislandpt.com.