New Home, Same Enjoyable Experience

Have you noticed a new physical therapy office on Grove Road? Look again! It’s Elite Integrated Therapy Centers. No, we’re not new. We’ve been in the Upstate community for 13 years. In 2006, Ben Hangen, PT, DPT, OCS and Paul Hecker, PT, DPT, OCS opened two physical therapy clinics in Anderson and Greenville with one goal in mind: to create the most enjoyable physical therapy experience in the Upstate. Now, with 7 clinics spanning the I-85 corridor, the Elite team focuses on making local residents better, happier, and healthier, and we absolutely deliver.

Don’t just take it from us…hear what our patients have to say:

“…the people here have been just absolutely wonderful to me. They listen. They just gave me so much confidence.” –Barbara V.

“There is a real generosity of spirit here. Everyone is very loving and supportive and kind. I saw different ranges of ages from little children to elderly people. Everyone was treated with warmth and kindness. A lot of integrity and concern. It’s a very supportive and nourishing environment, encouraging everyone to do their best.” –Terri J.

“When I came in, I was in a lot of physical pain. Now, as I have gone through the course of physical therapy, the pain has been relieved and I feel like a new person. I left with an experience every time knowing that I felt better than when I arrived.” –James

“…staff is inspiring and encouraging and although the sessions are challenging the results are undeniable. I am stronger, pain free and running faster and longer than ever before.” –Tim M.

“I am constantly smiling during my time at Elite. I feel wonderful. I feel loved, like everyone cares about the needs and care of the patient, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to a place other than Elite.” –Marvin M.

At Elite, we welcome patients of all ages: children to seniors and everything in between. We see a wide variety of diagnoses, including but not limited to muscle & joint pain, strength & conditioning, vertigo, women’s health, headaches, and TMJ. But that’s not all. Our services aren’t just limited to physical therapy….we offer occupational therapy, fitness & wellness, and massage therapy.

Curious as to what we can do to help you? Give us a call, send us an e-mail, or visit us in person or online. With 7 offices and growing, Elite’s got the Upstate covered!

Summer’s on it’s Way

It’s been a long, cold winter spent indoors waiting for warmer weather to arrive. Now that we’re getting our first glimpses of Spring, that means Summer is rapidly approaching, and there’s no better time to prep for hours of outdoor activities, weekend warrior-ing, and the inevitable “swimsuit season”. Here are a few tips to kick start a healthier lifestyle to keep you going through the Fall!

Drink lots of water
Such a simple step, but it has a great impact! Did you know, when you are dehydrated, your body can mistake thirst pangs for hunger pangs? Before you grab for that over-processed snack pack to tide you over until supper time, try drinking a glass or two of water. Chances are, you are dehydrated and your body thinks that you are hungry instead. Also, try substituting beverages you would normally drink for a glass of water.

Eating smaller portions
Reducing your portion size by only 20% can make a big difference in your drive to create healthy eating habits.

Don’t forget fiber and protein
Fiber allows your body to be able to move fat and waste through your system more quickly, while protein takes longer to digest. Both give you that “full” feeling longer, making your tummy happy until your next meal.

Eat healthy snacks between meals
Eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day keeps you from overeating during meals and stabilizes your blood sugar. However, it’s important to understand which snacks you should eat and which snacks you should pass up. A common misconception is to grab for the high-carbohydrate snacks, such as pretzels or yogurt… While these foods are relatively healthy, they are not very filling, leaving you unsatisfied before the next big meal. Stick to snacks high in protein and fiber, such as nuts, legumes, or “portable fruits”, such as strawberries, oranges, or peaches.

Keep your body guessing
A common myth in exercising is to do the same workout routines, such as crunches or push-ups, on repeat. Stop! After the first 20 or 30 reps, your body gets lethargic and you end up “cheating”, therefore not getting the full effect of the exercise and potentially causing damage to your musculoskeletal system. Be sure to change up your exercise routine every 30-90 days to keep all muscle groups continually engaged.

If you need help reaching your personal goals in time for Summer, give us a call to set up a consultation with one of our Fitness and Wellness coordinators in Greenville and Anderson!

Dry Needling… Getting to the Bottom of a Sticky Situation

By now, you’ve probably heard of (or may have even been stuck by) the popular treatment method in physical therapy today: dry needling. Although this technique may seem to be relatively new to healthcare, its origin dates back to the 1940s. Research proved that patients were responding to “wet needling”, or the introduction of a supplement or medication through a needle, without actually being injected. Fast forward to present day, healthcare professionals are finding dry needling beneficial for those experiencing:

• Acute/chronic injuries
• Headaches
• Neck/Back pain
• Tendinitis
• Muscle Spasms
• Sciatica
• Hip/Knee pain
• Muscle strains
• Tennis/Golfer’s Elbow

How does it work?
A dry needling certified physical therapist will insert a solid filament needle into your muscles, which activates trigger points and treats muscle pain. This technique is typically used when a physical therapist can’t reach particular muscle groups or relieve pain with their hands alone. You’re probably wondering, what is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture? While both procedures use a solid filament needle, dry needling improves muscles function through breaking up trigger points and resetting the muscle, whereas the traditional Western medicine acupuncture approach focuses on meridian points in the body. For patients with an aversion to needles, the question arises, ‘does it hurt?’. Typically, dry needling isn’t painful. However, reactions to dry needling can vary and muscle soreness tends to be the most prevalent among the possible side effects of treatment. Keep in mind, as goes with any form of exercise, when working muscles that have been stagnant, soreness is expected.

Some reactions to needling can be quite funny! Patients have been known to giggle uncontrollably, sweat, fall asleep, twitch, or cry (tear reaction).

While this is a great treatment method to use, dry needling isn’t for all patients. A certified, licensed physical therapist will be able to assess appropriate patients on a case by case basis. If this isn’t the tool is needed, it remains in the toolbox!

Interested in seeing if you’re a candidate for dry needling? Elite Integrated Therapy Centers has dry needling certified physical therapists at all 7 locations. Just a phone call away, their team can help you schedule an appointment within 24-48 hours—no referral needed!

Cross Your Heart

While this time of year is typically associated with Valentine’s Day, there’s another reason to keep your heart in check. February is American Heart Month and, now more than ever, efforts are being made to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease, educate the general population, and take preventative measures to keep your heart healthy. Here in South Carolina, heart disease is still the leading cause of death. Fortunately, 80% of heart disease and stroke events can be prevented by:

• Increasing physical activity
• Eliminating tobacco use
• Adjusting diet and maintaining healthy weight
• Getting plenty of sleep
• Managing stress
• Getting regular health screenings
(monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes)

Who is at risk?
Cardiovascular issues can affect anyone, but symptoms and risk factors can fluctuate based on a number of variables such as age, gender, ethnicity, and lifestyle choices. For example, although heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, women are believed to be more at risk than men as symptoms aren’t as easily identifiable. In order to raise awareness by educating those at higher risk, there are programs and campaigns in place at local and national levels geared towards very specific demographic groups.

How can ELITE help?
By definition, physical therapy improves quality of life for people of all ages who have medical conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limit their regular ability to move and function. But that’s not all! Physical therapy can be utilized as a preventative measure for various conditions—cardiovascular health included. Significant improvements in blood pressure, weight, quality of life, and other health indicators can be made through exercise under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, in conjunction with other health professionals such as primary care physicians, dietitians, health and wellness professionals, etc. In fact, studies show habitual physical activity helps reduce and sometimes prevent symptoms in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Need assistance starting a preventative exercise routine, or looking to transition to a higher level program?
Think of Elite Integrated Therapy Centers as your partner in establishing a healthier lifestyle! Just a phone call away, their team can help you schedule an appointment with a licensed physical therapist within 24-48 hours—No referral needed!

Watch your step!

As cooler temperatures sweep through the Upstate, people are falling victim, literally, to icy patches on sidewalks and roads. While you would like to stay 100% injury-free, you still have to go on with your daily routine. So we’ve thrown together a list of what to expect when wintery weather comes your way!

Be Prepared
Watch your local news broadcast to know when winter weather is expected. That way, you can have advanced warning of what’s to come. After that, winterize your home! If you have any cement walkways or surfaces that may become slick if icy, spread potassium-based melting granules over these surfaces. Unlike plain salt (or sodium-based melters), potassium-based melters will not damage cement surfaces, vegetation, or indoor surfaces if tracked inside. In addition, winterize your car! Add a few extra minutes to your morning routine in case your vehicle windows are covered with frost or winter precipitation. Invest in an ice scraper, which can be found for under $5 in most retail stores. Or, you could plan ahead and put an old towel or sheet over your windows to prevent any precipitation from sticking. Above all, DO NOT pour warm water on your windows to melt frost, ice, or snow. The two extreme temperatures may cause your windows or windshield to crack! Whatever you do, please do not try to drive your vehicle if your line of vision is blocked by winter precipitation. Not only is it dangerous, but it is considered illegal to drive with an obstructed view.

Walk Like a Pro
If you absolutely have to walk on surfaces that may be slick, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Walk with slow, small strides and try not to be hurried. Wear boots or shoes with treads; avoid shoes with smooth surfaces. If at all possible, try not to carry heavy loads that will cause you to be thrown off balance.

Fall with Grace
Should you find yourself in a slippery situation, knowing how to fall can reduce the risk of injury. When falling on ice, your natural reaction is to catch yourself with your hands. WRONG! That would be the best way to inflict injury to your wrists. Instead, fall forward and to the side, keeping your hands close to you. Try bending your knees as well, which may lessen the fall or prevent it altogether.

We hope these few helpful tips will keep you safe in wintery conditions in the New Year. If you do have an accident, call one of our offices so that we can get you back on your feet again!

The Holiday Survival Guide

By now, the home stretch of the holiday season is within arm’s length. Cards have been sent, (most of the) gifts have been purchased, wrapped, and placed carefully under the tree, and you’re preparing for what will arguably be the busiest, but most fulfilling weekend of the year—full of family, friends, and fellowship. Throughout the inevitable hustle and bustle, don’t get your tinsel in a tangle! Here are a few suggestions from Santa’s helpers at Elite Integrated Therapy Centers to keep you sane and moving through your holiday activities:

Travel Advisory…
For many of us, the more time we spend in our cars driving to see family or to the ends of the earth for that last minute gift, the more of a pain in the neck and back it becomes…literally! To make your travels more pleasant, try this: As you’re driving, it is important that you maintain a relatively straight spine. When the curves in your spine increase, so does the strain on your low back, neck, and shoulders. Keep your seat adjusted so that your spine and seat are in approximately a 90 degree angle to each other, with your arms and legs within easy reach of the wheel and pedals. This will help keep you, your neck, back, and shoulders in the holiday spirit.

The Kitchen Marathon…
Turkeys and cookies and pies… Oh my! The kitchen marathon is a grueling test of both culinary skill and physical endurance. Often your lower back becomes the first to succumb to the pressure. It begins to hurt when the curve in your lower spine increases. This commonly occurs from standing in the same position for an extended period of time. One way to combat this is to stand with one foot slightly elevated. In your kitchen, simply open a cabinet door and place the ball of your foot on the lower shelf. This will minimize the curve in your lower back, and give you the time you need to finish the race.

Holiday Headaches…
The holiday season is upon us and for many, so are the headaches that come with it. Headaches will start in your neck due to poor joint movement, muscle tension, and poor posture. Should you fall victim to a holiday headache, Elite can help! By correcting these problems, you can find relief from headaches and, best of all, learn exercises designed to minimize your headache’s intensity or even prevent their unwanted return all together.

Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season from your friends at Elite Integrated Therapy Centers!

TMJ – Here’s the jaw-dropping scoop

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TMJ – Here’s the jaw-dropping scoop

YOU have TMJ, YOU have TMJ, EVERYONE has TMJ! Commonly misunderstood as a diagnoses for jaw pain, the abbreviation “TMJ” actually stands for TemporoMandibular Joint, which is where the temple and the mandible meet to form your jaw joint. When it becomes dysfunctional, it is appropriately termed TMJD (TemporoMandibular Joint Dysfunction) or just TMD (TemporoMandibular Dysfunction).

There can be many causes of TMJD such as poor posture, oral surgeries, bruxism (grinding teeth or jaw clenching at night), stress, or trauma. Any of these factors can cause abnormal stresses to the muscles that connect to the joint, causing it to become dysfunctional and/or painful. TMJD can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing some foods.

But wait—there’s good news! Physical therapists are trained on the anatomy and treatment of TMJD! How can a PT help?

•  Postural correction
•  Soft tissue massage to muscles that have become tight around the joint
•  Joint mobilization to increase the mobility of the jaw
  Education of positions and foods to avoid
•  Exercises to stretch muscles around the joint
•  Exercises to allow better jaw relaxation
•  Potential recommendation for mouth guard

Through a thorough evaluation, physical therapists can determine what factors are contributing to the dysfunctional joint, which will in turn guide a treatment program that will improve the function and mobility of the joint. And this, of course, will lead to improved quality of life. At Elite, our (j)awesome therapists always strive to make quality of life a top priority, so CHEWs us for all of your physical therapy needs!

The Physical Therapy Approach to Oncology Patients


The Physical Therapy Approach to Oncology Patients


At one time, patients being treated for or recovering from cancer were advised to abstain from physical activity.  Medical professionals are now arguing just the opposite—and have the research to prove it!  According to recent studies, too much rest can lead to loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion.  During and after oncological treatments, patients often experience physical limitations and discomfort, including but not limited to exhaustion, weakness, deconditioning, nerve damage, weight variation, pain, and genitourinary complications, such as incontinence or sexual dysfunction.  This is where your local physical therapists can help…

According to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine, oncological rehabilitation is safe (and possible), resulting in improved physical function and quality of life, helping patients maintain independence and tolerate treatment.  Throughout the course of physical rehabilitation, the physical therapist assesses the patient’s fitness level and safely progresses an individualized treatment plan—very similar to typical physical therapy procedure.  However, during the course of oncological rehabilitation, the physical therapist also monitors for any developing adverse conditions, while also applying functional training and strengthening techniques designed to reduce fatigue, improve physical function, and increase muscle strength, joint flexibility, and general conditioning.

As with any diagnoses, there are certain factors to consider when prescribing the patient’s course of treatment.  For example, if the patient presents pain with movement, rapid heart rate, or shortness of breath, they may not be a good candidate for oncological rehabilitation.  Similarly, certain characteristics of the patient’s diagnoses could act as a red flag against physical activity, such as the type and stage of cancer, type of cancer treatment, or the patient’s stamina, strength, and fitness level.  Even after determining the patient safe to move forward with a physical activity plan, studies show that the patient is best suited in the capable hands of a licensed physical therapist.

Benefits of Pre-Operative Rehabilitation

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Benefits of Pre-Operative Rehabilitation

While physical rehabilitation post-surgery seems to be standard operating procedure, did you know pre-operative rehabilitation is just as important?  In fact, implementing a rehabilitative program prior to surgery can actually cut down on recovery time, complications, and even healthcare costs!

Following surgical procedures, patients often experience a decline in strength and function, as well as increased inflammation, pain, and swelling.  Keeping this in mind, over a clinically suggested 6 week time frame prior to surgery, a physical therapist will assess the patient for muscle and joint strength, ability to move and perform day-to-day tasks, and degree of independence; all of which are crucial in creating the patient’s individualized pre-surgical rehabilitation plan.  From there, the goals of this plan are simple:

  • Mentally prepare patient for surgery
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Restore range of motion
  • Improve muscular control of the affected area
  • Normalize movement patterns prior to your surgery
  • Improve overall well-being and fitness
  • Gain a good understanding of the exercises that you will perform immediately after surgery

By addressing key muscles, joints, and tissue anticipated to be affected by the procedure ahead of time, physical therapists are able to enhance post-operative outcomes.  According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), participating in just 1-2 pre-operative rehabilitative sessions can reduce postoperative care by 29%, which translates into healthcare savings of more than $1000 per individual.*

*study based on patients with total knee or hip replacement