Tag: Beyond Primary Care

Deconstructed Egg Salad Sandwich

admin

16 August 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

This featured recipe is a Deconstructed Egg Salad Sandwich. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.

Deconstructed Egg Salad Sandwich

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes 
Adapted from: Spoon Fork Bacon

Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches):

– 1 baguette with ends removed, sliced lengthwise
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 6 large eggs, hard boiled, shelled and sliced
– handful of greens
– 1 avocado, pitted, and mashed or sliced
– handful sweet gherkins, sliced lengthwise
– red onion, sliced
– Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1) Bring oven to 400 F. Place baguettes on tray. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until lightly toasted.
2) Once toasted, top baguettes with avocado spread, greens, onions, sliced egg, and sweet gherkins. Season with salt and pepper, serve.

Storytelling in Anxiety and Depression

admin

12 August 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.S

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

Storytelling

We talked about what anxiety is in an earlier post. In this post I am discussing something that is important to me in treating any mental health condition- especially anxiety and depression- and that is storytelling.

Why We Listen

Not only is it a way of relaying information about my patients when discussing care (eg- talking to a therapist to find the best medication), but it is an an essential way I continue to learn at work. It has struck me recently that even more than these obvious examples, storytelling has a direct impact on not only how we understand anxiety and depression (or any disease) but the process of healing itself, from the perception and expectations of the patient to the diagnosis and treatment by the physician. One thing I find myself doing on a daily basis as a physician is listening to patient’s stories. I sit down with them, make myself present, and just listen.

Listen For Understanding

Think about any instruction list TELLING you how to do something: 
Step 1: take an anti depressive medication, followed by 
Step 2: get 8 hours of sleep a night, followed by
Step 3: walk 30 minutes each day, and so on. 

People may complete the task, but long term learning for long term success from this method is limited. When someone is stuck in the dark hole that is anxiety or depression, it’s hard enough just getting OUT of bed in the morning, let alone doing any number of tasks. Treating anxiety or any mental health condition is not comparable to assembling a piece of furniture from Ikea.

Now, compare this to learning something from a story, where someone has pushed their own human experience and emotion into those tasks. Hearing the struggles, failures, and successes through story are more likely to shape your ability to learn and cope. Understand there are some conditions that we treat through empathy and ability to get to know people at people at a deeper level. The conversation can lend the support you need as you navigate the ‘hard’ in your own life.

Our Stories Are Ourselves

Sharing your story will help you feel better. Why are you not sharing your story? Perhaps you feel embarrassment, fear, resignation? If you do not share your story then those thoughts and feelings are just randomly going through your mind, and you may only be inclined to be reactive towards them when they do pass through… that is randomly.

We use stories to describe to others our needs, and mental health is no exception. It doesn’t make much difference what we leave in and what we take out, what is important is that we tell the story. There is magic in that. It’s in the listener and storyteller- us. And for each and every ear, it will be different. And it will affect us in ways that we can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell or hear a tale that takes up residence in your soul, becomes your blood and your purpose. That story will move you and drive you. And who knows what you might do because of it.

The Challenge

The truth is today we are not treating everyone we need to who suffers from anxiety or depression, and can not do so if we continue to insist on one-on-one therapy with only an ‘expert.’ If listening to and sharing stories helps people, how can we withhold it? It will be there, doing its thing, whether you want it there or not. To ignore it seems to me to be the least ethical thing one could possibly do.

Mainstream medicine has a challenge: continue to ignore your story and lose you to a subjective fantasy built on the mistakes of our brain, or join you in your life story ensuring you are taking responsibility for your wellbeing while making you central to the care and cure.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

admin

24 July 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

This featured recipe is a Spinach and Artichoke Dip. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Adapted from: Food Network, Houstons
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 (10 oz) bag spinach, destemmed
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TB all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups milk
½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 ¼ cups parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup sour cream, plus more for serving
½ cup white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup artichoke hearts, squeezed dry and roughly chopped
Salt
Tortilla chips for serving

Instructions:

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stiri in the spinach and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water; squeeze out the excess moisture, then finely chop.
2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ½ tsp salt and cook until the onion is soft, about 2 minutes.
3) Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
4) Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, parmesan and sour cream.
5) Return the pot to medium heat. Add the spinach, cheddar and artichokes and stir until the cheese melts and dip is heated through. 
6) Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream.


Guide to Erectile Dysfunction, Beyond Primary Care, Primary Care, Family Doctor

Guide to Erectile Dysfunction

admin

11 June 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

Erectile Dysfunction

In this post I am discussing a common condition that I see at my clinic: erectile dysfunction. Let me repeat that last part- a common condition. If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, you are not alone. Those two words can make any man nervous. It affects all men but becomes increasingly prevalent as we age. At least 12 million U.S. men between 40 to 79 years of age have it, but can occur at any age. Older individuals are more likely to experience health conditions that require medication, which can cause or even worsen ED. It is a very emotional and sensitive topic to discuss.

Anatomy & Physiology

The penis consists of two parallel cylinder-shaped tissues called the corpora cavernosa that run the length of the penis, a hollow tube called the urethra that is responsible for expelling urine and ejaculate, erectile tissue surrounding this tube, and various arteries and veins. The process of erection involves increased blood flow and pressure to the penis, and those cylinder-shaped tissues mentioned above become engorged and expand- thus an erection. Erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when those tissues fail to become engorged or the penis fails to maintain rigidity and resumes a normal shape.

Essential Components for Function

How ED is affecting one male may not be the reason for you. Your doctor will help to differentiate which components are affecting you and this is important in differentiating treatment options.

  • Your interest and desire for sexual activity (libido)
  • Ability to obtain and maintain an erection
  • Ejaculation (orgasm)

Select Causes of ED

Male sexual arousal is a complex subject. Discussing in broad terms, ED can generally be separated into two categories: physical and mental health. Many instances of ED may involve causes from both categories.

Physical Causes

  • Medications: Take a look at your existing medications. Several medications may lead to ED. As example, anti-depressants like SSRIs (citalopram, fluoxetine paroxetine, sertraline) used to treat mental health concerns and Beta-blockers (metoprolol, carvidilol, labetalol)  used to treat blood pressure can cause ED. Review all your medications with your doctor.
  • Smoking: Compared with men who have never smoked, the risk of ED is increased by 51% in current smokers and 20% in ex-smokers. Ask your doctor for help in quitting.
  • Diabetes: If you’ve ruled out other causes, there’s a chance your ED is due to diabetes. Patients with diabetes are three times more likely to develop ED. Review your risk for diabetes or work with your doctor to bring your sugars under control.
  • Low Testosterone: Also called hypogonadism, is a condition that generally occurs to all men as they age. By age 80, 50% of men will have testosterone levels in the low range, however the decline is faster in some men than others. Testosterone levels can affect  a man’s overall health including sex drive and sexual function.

Mental Health Causes

  • Sexual Performance Anxiety: This happens when a man anticipates a problem during the sexual encounter and, as a result becomes anxious while attempting to have sex. Doubt and insecurities may take over your thoughts: “Will I get hard enough?” “Will I maintain an erection?” “How do I compare?” “What if I can’t finish?” These pervasive questions can ruin any performance. Talk to your doctor because once people understand the mental that cause anxiety and how to reduce or eliminate them

Treatment

  • Exercise and Nutrition: A change in eating and drinking habits can potentially reverse the contributing causes.
  • Therapy: Seeing and talking to an accredited sex therapist can lead to an overall happier sex life for men and their partners.
  • Medications: The availability of oral medications such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, make it much easier to treat erectile dysfunction. However, medications should be part of a more comprehensive long-term plan. At Beyond Primary Care, we wholesale generic Viagra 100 mg, 10 pills to our patients for $4.20.
  • Testosterone Replacement Therapy: For men experiencing sexual frustration and have low testosterone, testosterone replacement therapy is a safe and effective way to return T-levels to the normal range.

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

admin

22 May 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

This featured recipe is Greek Lemon Chicken Soup. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Adapted from: Food Network

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup farro
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
Zest of x2 lemons
Juice of x2 lemons
1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
3 large eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tbsp chopped dill
biscuits (or any bread on-hand or easily obtained)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, ½ tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften.
3) Add the farro and cook, stirring, until toasted, 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and water; cover and bring to a boil.
4) One boiling, add the lemon zest, reduce to simmer, uncovered, until the farro is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken.
5) Whisk the eggs and lemon juice in a bowl; drizzle ½ cup of the hot broth into the eggs, whisking constantly. Gradually stir the hot egg mixture into the pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with ¼ tsp salt.
6) Combine the feta and dill in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Fill the biscuit halves with the feta mixture and lightly brush with olive oil.
7) Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until cheese melts, 2-3 minutes.
8) Top each serving of soup with dill, season with pepper. Serve with stuffed biscuits.


Pesto topped Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

admin

11 May 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

This featured recipe is Pesto topped Scrambled Eggs with Bacon. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.

Pesto Topped Scrambled Eggs with Bacon

Adapted from: Spoon Fork Bacon
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, whole
3 tablespoons walnuts
1 ½ cups basil leaves
⅓ cup olive oil, divided
3 oz parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
8 eggs
3 oz whole milk
2 tbsp butter
8 strips bacon
1 large french baguette

Instructions:

1) Turn oven to 400 F.
2) Spray a cookie sheet with a non-stick spray, place over a cooking tray. Lay bacon strips on top, bake bacon for approx 20-25 minutes.
3) While bacon is cooking, prepare pesto sauce. Place garlic and walnuts into a food processor and pulse until small pieces. Add basil and 2 tablespoons oil and pure and roughly chopped. Add remaining oil into the food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Add in parmesan. Set aside.
4) Slice the baguette lengthwise. Once bacon is done cooking place on top of the cookie tray (not in bacon juice) face up and lightly toast.
5) Using a non-stick saute pan over low-medium heat, melt butter.
6) Crack eggs and cream into a mixing bowl and whisk.
7) Place the egg mixture into skillet, using a wooden spoon to stir eggs until they break up. Once eggs set, remove from heat.
8) Butter baguette slices if wanted, tehn top each with crispy bacon, divide the eggs evenly over the baguettes, and drizzle with prepared pesto. This can be served immediately or allowed to cool and placed in the refrigerator wrapped in wax paper until needed.


Keeping Laboratory Costs Low

admin

10 May 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care is a Direct Care clinic serving patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

In this post I am answering a common question that I receive, and that is how does Beyond Primary Care (DPC) keep laboratory costs low for it’s members? Offering low bill rates for labs is a key feature of virtually all Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices, and is something that is done to increase the value of a membership. Just how low? Many DPC practices do in-clinic phlebotomy and can provide numerous laboratory studies to their patients at a tenth of the costs that many hospitals and fee-for-service providers can provide.

How DPC Practices Keep Laboratory Costs Low

To start DPC practices typically do their own phlebotomy (that is the collection of blood from your veins) and rarely bill for these services. This starts the savings before a single drop of blood is collected. DPC practices then contract with laboratory diagnostic companies, many times the same companies that service smaller hospitals or fee-for-service clinics. My clinic, Beyond Primary Care, uses a few laboratory diagnostic companies, Quest Diagnostics, True Health, and Aurora Diagnostics

Prior to drawing any labs for our patients, DPC practices negotiate what we call ‘client bill rates’ with these diagnostic companies. A client bill rates is basically saying, what is the lowest cash price for a particular laboratory study you can offer to my clinic’s patients? Compare this to smaller hospitals or fee-for-service providers. They bill for phlebotomy (U of M states they charge $9 for this service alone) and then these providers bill the labs through your insurance. Often times the laboratory costs often never negotiated down on behalf of the patient because there is no incentive from the practice to do this. 

DPC gets these low laboratory fees for their members in this innovative manner because our primary business is taking care of you and NOT being just a blood-draw center. Your membership for care to a DPC practice allows for this innovation.

Savings from Laboratory Costs

I have a colleague who recently had a pap smear completed, which is a diagnostic test used in females to detect cervical cancer.  She claimed she had ‘Cadillac Health Insurance’ through her employer, meaning basically she thought she had really great insurance that would cover the costs of her healthcare. Look at her bill below and what she was left to pay out of pocket. At my clinic, Beyond Primary Care, the procedure of completing the pap smear if part of the membership. No extra charges. The fee for the pathologist (that I have negotiated) is $44. The difference in costs in this ONE laboratory study alone would pay for months of healthcare at any DPC clinic.

DPC Members can obtain Labs other Doctors Order

DPC providers understand you may need to see another specialist from time to time, and these providers may want their own labs completed. A common question I receive is if the other specialist request labs, can I get them done through your clinic? 

Yes, absolutely this is another great way to minimize your financial impact. No doctor or hospital can force any patient to have routine laboratory studies done only at their location or where they tell a patient to complete them at. That is against the law. They may use convincing language saying ‘the results integrate into our electronic system faster,’ or ‘those other providers may not know exactly what I want.’ Stay firm and request a written and signed order for your labs. Your DPC clinic will complete the exact same labs, bill you at the much lower rates (compared had you used your insurance), and will promptly fax the results over to the requesting specialists that meet their needs. As noted by this Wall Street Journal article analysis of medical services, prices tend to be higher when services are performed in hospital outpatient facilitates instead of at doctors’ offices.

Ham & Cheese Pot Pie

admin

24 April 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

This featured recipe is Ham & Cheese Pot Pie. These recipes are my attempt, in a way, to bridge that Doctor’s adage of “Eat Better & Exercise More.” In this post, I will showcase a healthy meal made on a budget, my pictures are pretty decent, and that is how I got into this food endeavor.

Ham & Cheese Pot Pie

Adapted from: Philadelphia on AllRecipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

1 teaspoon brown sugar
10 ounces ham, sliced and cut into cubes
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups frozen mixed veggies (corn, carrots, green beans)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chive & onion cream cheese
2 cups veggie broth
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 batch biscuits
3 tablespoons butter

Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 425
2) Add large saucepan over medium heat, then add ham and brown sugar- stir. Cook until browned.
3) Add the flour and stir with a whisk, then slowly whisk in the broth.
4) Add milk and stir. Simmer until the mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes). If it still appears to thin, scoop out ½ cup of the broth and add 1-2 tbsp more flour and whisk back into the pot to thicken. Wait a few minutes, repeat if necessary.
5) While the sauce is thickening, prepare biscuits. Cut out, leave unbacked, and set outside.
6) Microwave cream cheese spread in microwaveable bowl on for 1 minute or until completely melted, stirring every 15 seconds.
7) Once the sauce is thickened, add the frozen vegetables, shredded cheese, and cream cheese and cook for 4-5 more minutes.
8) Divide the mixture evenly between 5-6 lightly greased ramekins or 8×8 baking dish.
9) Top with biscuits and brush the tops of biscuits with melted butter.
10) Set your ramekins or 8×8 dish on a baking sheet to catch overflow and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly (about 14-17 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.


Improve Your Financial Health

admin

20 April 2019

Dr. Jeff O’Boyle with Beyond Primary Care teams up with Dennis LaVoy CFP® CLU® with Telos Financial to discuss ways individuals, businesses, and families can free up cash flow.

Knee Cap Pain

admin

16 April 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care serves patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

Knee Cap Pain

In this post I am discussing a common condition that I see at my clinic: knee cap pain. Knee cap pain can present itself multiple ways that may not always be muscular in nature, so you should always check with your doctor before starting any treatment. However, a common reason for knee pain is patello femoral pain syndrome (PFS), where the knee cap begins to increasingly track to the outermost part of the leg bone (femur) with movements such as walking, going up/down stairs, and squatting (pretty much any movement when someone bends their leg). Improper tracking of the knee cap can mechanically be due to a number of problems, and can be years in the making or due to a single traumatic event.

Anatomy

Your quadriceps muscles are key to many movements and activities that you do. The group is made up of four muscles (a “quad”) – rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis obliquus (the VMO). All four then run down to your knee and they join together, becoming a single tendon that surrounds your knee cap (patella). This tendon then continues down to connect to the knee bone (tibia) of your lower leg.

The VMO Connection

The VMO contributes to running, jumping and nearly every other basic movement, because together with your other quad muscles, it’s a powerful knee extensor along with pulling the knee cap to the inside. Anytime you push off the ground, your VMO is involved. It’s also an important knee stabilizer—a critical function that’s often overlooked. The other three quad muscles are either neutral or pull the knee cap to the outside. If you don’t have a developed VMO that can hold its own compared to the other quad muscles, you may experience tracking issues which leads to the vicious cycles of knee pain.

Minimize the Pain and Swelling

Minimizing pain and swelling can be done via an interdisciplinary approach with ice-packs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Consider using ice-packs over the affected area, fifteen minutes at a time, two to three times a day. No heat, as this only will exacerbate the pain/inflammation cycle. Next, consider NSAIDs as these have anti-inflammatory properties and are used widely for musculoskeletal disorders. Select NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are available over-the-counter.

Identify your VMO

In a relaxed, seated position with your legs out in front, place a rolled-towel under your knee. Next, feel your VMO by placing your fingers just above your knee cap on the inside aspect of your leg. Extend your leg by bringing your knee cap down into the towel. The extension of your leg should occurring slowly (like 5 seconds), over just a small range. When you do this you should feel the VMO contracting under your fingers. This should be your first exercise. 

Access Range of Motion and Build Flexibility

The first step in improving your situation is going be be determining if you have tight muscles as lack of flexibility can disrupt both the timing and contraction of muscles that will ultimately lead to more pain. From a balance standpoint, a tight muscle may limit the range of motion through which an opposite muscle can move (example of opposite muscles include rectus femoris/glute). Learn what you can about stretching, then find specific flexibility builders such as hip and ankle muscles.

Tape the Knee

Taping the knee is very easy and has been validated by research to help improve the nervous system firing of the weakened VMO muscle. Purchase some athletic or kinesio tape. To apply the tape, place the tape on the outside of the affected knee and pull it across the knee cap inward making sure you have enough pressure that you see a little skin fold crease as you do this. 

Stabilize & Build Strength

Once your swelling has subsided and pain is improving, you need to start with simple non-weighted stability exercises to regain integrity of the joint. Consider one-legged standing exercises. As you progress, start with non weighted strengthening exercises such as lunges, step-ups, and squats. Lastly, if at any point treating your knee becomes too complicated, talk to your doctor about a prescription for physical therapy.