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What Are Some Common Causes of Back Pain?

What Are Some Common Causes of Back Pain?

This week, we’re celebrating Bone and Joint Action Week. Over half of all Americans over the age of 18 suffer from some sort of musculoskeletal condition, such as arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma. In fact, these conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide. Over time, they can lead to decreased productivity in work or at home, as well as a diminish in quality of life.

While a lot of back pain stems from unavoidable ailments such as old age or disease, plenty of cases are caused by completely preventable situations. If you are a frequent sufferer of back aches, then you may want to consider the cause. By learning more about the common causes of back pain, you can figure out the best way to make it stop.

1. Lying Down or Sitting Too Much

Since all of our patients are homebound, many of them do not have the ability to walk around freely. Some patients are even confined to bed, too weak or sick to even get up at all. Unfortunately, this can wreak havoc on your back. This happens because the discs that line and cushion your vertebrae are compacted when you are sitting. This prevents fluid from reaching the discs, preventing them from getting the nutrients they need to keep doing their job. In fact, sitting puts more pressure on your back than standing or lying down, and can even cause long term damage if you do it all day every day. To prevent this, try and get up at least every 20 minutes to give your back a break, use a back support in your chair, and don’t lean forward too much.

2. Weakness in the Core

Again, because many of our patients are just coming out of the hospital and are weak, they usually don’t have great core strength. Your core includes your ab, back, side, pelvic, and buttock muscles, all of which work together to help support your spine. These are the muscles that allow you to twist, bend, rotate, and stand up straight. Without these muscles, your back is in danger of being unsupported. A core weak leads to slouching, which causes pain in your back. Remedy this problem by doing stretches and exercises like lunges, squats, and planks to strength your muscles.

3. Sleeping Incorrectly

You might not think there’s a wrong way to sleep, but there is. Laying on your stomach while catching some Zs actually puts a lot of pressure on your joints and muscles, keeping everything tight and compressed. Laying on your bed, on the other hand, allows your spine to stay long and neutral throughout the night. Additionally, it is important to choose the right kind of mattress to optimize spine comfort. Always go with a medium firmness as this is the best surface to keep your spine happy. Use a pillow that keeps your head in line with your spine throughout the night.

4. Emotional Instability

Mental illness is known for terrorizing the mind, but it can also have palpable effects on the body. A study from the University of Alberta has revealed that people with major depression were four times as likely to suffer from low back and neck pain. They think it’s because depression can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to increased muscle tension in the shoulders and back. Additionally, depression makes it hard to find motivation for moving or exercising. However, moving and being active is actually a treatment for both depression and back aches, so it’s important to try and overcome the urge to lay in bed.

Don’t forget to let your nurse or therapist know if you are suffering back pain. If you doctor agrees, we can have a physical therapist come to visit you and provide alleviating treatment. He or she will provide you with exercises to strengthen your core and get your back feeling better.


National Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day

Grandparents are a special breed of people. They have lived for many years, imparting their knowledge, attitude, and passion to the world. National Grandparents Day is a time to celebrate all of their accomplishments and wisdom.

There are many things you can do to show your support to grandparents and older adults in your community. Use today to give them the respect and honor they deserve after a lifetime well lived.

  • Invite grandparents over to play a favorite board game from their youth.
  • Have the whole family cook a few of Grandma’s favorite recipes together. Of course, she will enjoy supervising and teaching!
  • Take grandparents to visit the houses where they grew up, or some other memorable spots.
  • Compile a CD of songs from their youth, adding a few of your children’s favorite songs as well.
  • Host a family reunion, inviting a few local relatives or dozens of distant relations.
  • Create a book or poster titled, “Why We Love Grandpa.” Have the kids list their many reasons, and add colorful illustrations.
  • Create a family tree together. Be sure to bring out the grandparents’ photographs, so that the kids can put a face with a name. It’s also a great time to jot names, dates and notes on the backs of the pictures.
  • Ask the grandparent for a lesson on their favorite hobby. Your family can spend the day learning to knit with grandma, or fish with grandpa.
  • Give the grandparent a homemade “coupon book” from the entire family. The coupons may include help with chores, places you’ll take them to visit, or activities you’ll plan to do together.
  • Watch the grandparents’ favorite movie together as a family.
  • Have your children write a story, featuring the grandparent as the main character, complete with illustrations.
  • Create a set of placemats using old and new photos of the grandparent, along with their children and grandchildren.



National Pain Awareness Month

National Pain Awareness Month

Pain is, unfortunately, something we know a lot about. Nearly all of our patients suffer from some kind of pain, whether it is chronic (long-lasting) or acute (temporary, short term). That’s why we’d like to take a moment to pay recognition to Pain Awareness Month. It’s a time to raise public awareness of pain and pain management.

Almost 100 million Americans experience chronic pain on a daily basis – more than those who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Chronic pain is defined as pain that continues a month or more beyond the usual recovery period for an injury or illness that goes on for months or years. The pain may not be constant, but can definitely interfere with daily life. There are many causes of pain stemming from a number of different conditions, including arthritis and back issues. 25 million people suffer from migraines, and one in six people suffer from some form of arthritis.

Pain is an indicator of some kind of problem in the body that requires attention. It can be both physical and emotional, affecting your psychological state and stress levels.

So what can you do to learn more about pain? Try taking our Pain Awareness Month Quiz to test your knowledge of facts and statistics related to pain. Or, to assess your individual pain score and see how it affects your quality of life, take this Pain Score Quiz. If you have any more questions about pain or pain management, just ask your nurse or therapist during their next visit! They will be happy to help you find ways to lessen or prevent your pain.


Gallagher Wins 2015 Top Workplace Award From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Gallagher Wins 2015 Top Workplace Award From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For the third time in four years, Gallagher Home Health Services has been named a Top Workplace in the Pittsburgh area by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Gallagher’s previous awards came in 2011 and 2014.

126 companies in the Pittsburgh area were surveyed by WorkplaceDynamics, a research firm that specializes in employee surveys and workplace improvement. Of these companies, only 85 were chosen to be recognized as Top Workplaces in the Pittsburgh area.

This year, Gallagher moved into the mid-size company group, which includes companies that have 150 to 399 employees. The company took 13th place in its division, beating out all other home health competitors. Out of 162 employees in the company, 94 completed the survey and expressed their opinions on topics such as work/life balance, managerial concerns, company direction, workplace connection, pay, and benefits.

Gallagher employees had many positive things to say about the company through anonymous comments. One employee noted that “the support system is very strong from all the motivated people that work here,” while another said that they feel they “truly make differences in the lives of the patients that [they] see.” Other comments prided the company in the flexibility of scheduling, the helpfulness of office staff, and the overall positive attitude of workers.

Gallagher Home Health Services is honored to have been selected as a Pittsburgh Top Workplace for 2015. The company would like to extend its gratitude to all of its staff for their passion, dedication, and commitment to treating all their patients like family.


6 Ways to Celebrate Senior Citizens Day

6 Ways to Celebrate Senior Citizens Day

The elderly population of the world is huge and expected to just keep on growing. By 2025, experts estimate that there will be over one billion people over 65. Because of their experience, expertise, and dedication to life, these people deserve to be recognized for the achievements. Luckily, August 21 is Senior Citizens Day, a national holiday intended to honor and show appreciation for the older adults in our lives.

Founded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, this holiday celebrates the 40.3 million senior citizens that live in the United States. Many of these seniors are still active and independent, with 28 percent of people over 65 still living on their own and 16.2 percent still maintaining jobs. Older people carry with them the wisdom and knowledge that takes a lifetime to learn, so it is important not to simply push them to the side after they reach a certain age. There are many different ways to celebrate Senior Citizens Day; here are just a few ideas to get you started on planning your own unique observance.

1. Spend time with elderly loved ones

This is perhaps the most obvious yet most overlooked idea. Daily life is busy, meaning you might not always have time to spend with your family members. They might live out of the way or even in another state. However, visiting your elderly loved ones is essential to their mental health and well-being. Senior isolation increases the risk of poor health, cognitive decline, dementia, and early mortality. Therefore, make it a point to spend some time with your loved ones today. Plan a surprise visit, take them out for a day on the town, or even just stay in and reminisce over a cup of tea. It will make their day!

2. Visit local area nursing homes

Not all seniors are lucky enough to have caring family members. Many are shipped off to nursing and retirement homes without a second thought and never receive a visit or phone call from the people that put them there. Visiting a local nursing home can seriously brighten a senior’s day and positively impact their health. They may feel lost and forgotten, but having a stranger come by to talk and listen to them makes them feel valuable and cared about once more. To make the day even more special, pass out some homemade cookies or other gift.

3. Take advantage of discounts

There’s a lot of good things about being a senior, but one of the most important things are the discounts! Many businesses offer special savings just for older adults. A lot of these discounts are unadvertised, so seniors are encouraged to ask about them whenever they go to a store to buy something. Keep an eye out for “senior days” at local businesses, and remember to use your AARP card to qualify for special deals.

4. Start a family history project

Your elderly family members probably have a lot of knowledge about your family history, so why not use that knowledge to learn more about yourself? Start a family history project with them! Interview your senior loved one about their memories and experiences to gain a greater insight about their lives. It’s a great way to keep busy while spending time with them. Have them tell you stories you might not know about their parents and grandparents. Go through old photos and create a memory book that can be passed down through the generations.

5. Volunteer for projects that benefit elderly

There are many different things you can do in your community to help out seniors. Become a companion for seniors in your neighborhood and schedule weekly visits to check up on them. There are also programs that help seniors run errands they can no longer do themselves, such as picking up groceries or medication. Check with the local Meals on Wheels headquarters in your area, as they may need help delivering or preparing meals. Lastly, many libraries and community centers host events just for seniors – see if they need any help organizing their next outing!

6. Host a party or luncheon to celebrate

Show your elderly loved one you really care with a party that’s all about them! Having a party in their honor makes them feel special and valuable and can do wonders for their self-esteem. Invite all of their friends and family. You can even turn it into a festival of sorts if you have several people you wish to honor. Prepare their favorite foods, play their favorite music, bake them a cake, and make the entire day about them.


Update on Na’Kai

Update on Na’Kai

You might remember the story of Na’Kai Phillips we shared a while back. He’s a five-year-old boy who was on vacation with his mother in Puerto Rico when the unthinkable happened. Na’Kai had a stroke and had to have immediate brain surgery, leaving him stranded in Puerto Rico during his recovery. For a while, things looked grim as doctors didn’t know how Kai would recover or when he would be healthy enough to travel back home.

Na'Kai Phillips Welcome Home PartyKai and friends with birthday cakeLuckily, we have some great news to share. A few days after falling ill, Kai woke up out of his coma and was soon up and about. It took a few more weeks, but Kai was finally able to fly back home on July 30! While he is still in need of lots of doctor and therapy visits, he is recovering remarkably well. Gallagher wanted to celebrate his return home, so we held a welcome back party in his honor.

Kai was in good spirits, and quickly made friends with some of the children of our office staff. He was very excited to be the center of attention and enjoyed the pizza we ordered for him. Because Kai missed his birthday during his illness, we also had a birthday ice cream cake and sang him “Happy Birthday”.

After the food and dessert, it was time for presents! Kai received his very own bicycle, which he then took on a tour around the office.

It was great to see Kai happy and laughing after his terrible ordeal. Because of everyone’s contributions on the GoFundMe we set up, we were able to raise a total of $4,590 for Kai and his family. Thank you so much to everyone who donated – as you can see, it was a cause very much worthwhile!

For more photos of Kai’s party, check out our Facebook page.



Please Help Support Na’Kai Phillips in Puerto Rico

Please Help Support Na’Kai Phillips in Puerto Rico

Five-year-old Na’Kai Phillips was scheduled to have a great birthday. His mom, Shaquayla, had won a free trip to Puerto Rico, and was taking him there to celebrate his special day. Unfortunately, instead of having the time of his life, tragedy struck.

After landing in Puerto Rico, Na’Kai’s health immediately began to decline. He was quickly diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage and underwent immediate brain surgery. Now, Na’Kai is stuck in a Puerto Rican hospital for up to a month while he recovers, as he is too unstable to be moved back to the United States.

Shaquayla is one of our home health aides and is in desperate need of financial assistance to help cover lodging and food costs while she stays with him. Luckily, her mom was able to fly down so she is not alone in this dark hour. However, now both of them are stuck in Puerto Rico without access to money. Please donate to help her so she can be with Na’Kai during his time of need! We have set up a GoFundMe account to collect donations for the family. Any amount would be helpful at this time! Thank you and we very much appreciate your support.

 Click below to donate:

The Longest Day – Raise Alzheimer’s Awareness

The Longest Day – Raise Alzheimer’s Awareness

Chances are that someone in your life has been touched by Alzheimer’s. This disease has quickly spread to become an epidemic, affecting 47 million people worldwide and costing $604 billion a year to treat. Currently, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. What’s worse, it is the only cause of death in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

While this all sounds pretty grim, that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. The Longest Day is an event that helps to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association, which is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The event is held on the summer solstice and goes on from sunrise to sunset. Teams participate in an activity of their choice for the duration of the day, raising money and collecting donations along the way.

There’s still time to create a team and promote this valiant cause. All you need to do is gather your team members, choose an activity you enjoy, and raise some money! The funds that are donated will help to provide care and support to those facing Alzheimer’s, drive research toward treatment, prevention, and a cure, and give those who suffer from Alzheimer’s a voice in legislation and federal policy. A good goal is to try and raise at least $100 per hour of daylight per team… which equals $1600 that will go towards the fight against Alzheimer’s.


National Cancer Survivors Day

National Cancer Survivors Day

Today, June 7, is National Cancer Survivors Day! It is a time of celebration for the millions of people throughout the world who have battled cancer and come out victorious. Beating cancer is not easy – in fact, it’s one of the hardest things people have to go through in their lives. This day is meant to celebrate milestones and bring attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship.

As a part of that celebration, here are six tales from cancer survivors. Whether you are looking for a bit of hope for your own diagnosis, or just want to read some touching stories, these personal anecdotes will lighten your heart. Life after cancer can and does exist – and it is beautiful.

kathy harris

Kathy Harris – Breast + Lung Cancer

“I spent 2 weeks in the hospital depressed and crying until my doctor said to me, ‘You can do 1 of 2 things. You can sit here and cry and moan or you can take back your life and be strong and positive.’ I took his advice and I became stronger. I became positive.”

cancer survivor stories 2

Danielle Duran Baron – Liver Cancer

“I am constantly inspired by my new friends and their families, many of whom have taught me that there is dignity in suffering and beauty in death.”

michael turek

Michael Turek – Pancreatic Cancer

“Through all of this I kept a very positive and hopeful attitude. I have seven great kids who have been there for me, along with my dear friends, colleagues, and even strangers. I have made it to this point without too bad of an effect on my life!”

alyceia kimbrough

Alyceia Kimbrough – Breast Cancer

“I’ve come far since I decided to discard the anger and focus on helping to raise funds and find cures so people like my mother will never again have to say the words, ‘I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer.'”

Trina C

Trina C - Mesothelioma

“People who went through this with me, saw me at my worst, and now they’re seeing me at my best. It’s been a miracle. Something so horrible has turned into something so good.”

howard tolchin

Howard Tolchin – Brain Tumor

“If you saw me right now, you would never know I had any type of problem. A cancer diagnosis is NOT a death sentence. My wife and I are living proof. I had a brain tumor, I had lymphoma, I had lung cancer, and I’m still here.”


Gallagher 10th Anniversary Celebration Recap

Gallagher 10th Anniversary Celebration Recap

Gallagher hosted a party last Saturday to celebrate 10 years of being in business. And what a party it was!

The night took place at Latitude 360 in Robinson. Gallagher had the entire second floor reserved, which included a dance floor, full service bar, bowling alley, outdoor patio, and cigar room. Even with all the space, it got a bit cramped with all of the lovely Gallagher employees in attendance!

gallagher home health party

Food was served at several food stations throughout the party, encouraging people to mingle. On the menu was carved meat, finger foods like chicken tenders, mozzarella wedges, and quesadillas, a baked potato and mashed potato bar, a custom pasta station, and ball park foods like hotdogs and pretzels with cheese. Overall, it was quite the feast, and everyone had their fill of goodies!

The full service bar provided party goers with plenty of refreshments throughout the night.

latitude 360 food stationlatitude 360 mashed potato bar


While dinner was being served, the DJ played some videos he had recorded of our employees’ favorite memories from working at Gallagher. Many people laughed at the funny stories and recollections from throughout the years.

As the night went on, awards were handed out to some of our most tenured employees.


Great prizes were given away all night, including bottles of wine, Amazon Fire TV, an iPad, and a brand new TV!

The highlight of the evening came came the balloon stuffing contest. Competing against each other was Team Kuten, Team Dwain, and Team Ben. Kuten, Dwain, and Ben all put on oversized shirts, and the goal was to stuff them as full as possible with balloons. Their teammates frantically helped by blowing up balloons and shoving them into every crevice of the shirt until it was hard to tell who was who. In the end, victory of the heated contest was awarded to Team Kuten.

IMG_5075Overall, the night was a lot of fun! Thank you to everyone who attended and made the night special!

To see our complete collection of photos, check out our photo album on Facebook!