Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

How To Reduce Joint Stiffness: 5 Useful Tips

October 31st, 2017 by Kylie Jane

As we age, joint stiffness starts playing an active role; whether due to old injuries, weakness in the joints, or simply because it isn’t easy growing older. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that joint stiffness has to play an active role in your everyday life.

Knowing how to reduce joint stiffness will result in a higher quality of life – enabling you to do more on a frequent basis without having to worry about pain or difficult joints slowing you down. Thus, in order to gain your flexibility back, you may want to include the following joint stiffness remedies into your daily routine:

1. Apply hot/cold compress.

Reducing possible inflammation in the joints is key to decreasing stiffness, thus, either a cold or hot compress could work. Apply a cold ice pad to stiff joints for 15-20 minutes or a heat pad to muscles in order to help your muscles relax and increase circulation. Alternatively, you can always take a steamy shower in order to add heat to the muscles and stiff joints – helping you to relax simultaneously as well as easing the possible joint pain.

2. Regular exercise.

Exercise, in any form, is always beneficial to your health. Not only do you improve muscle strength and growth, you’re also loosening up stiff joints. However, it’s important to train with a professional who knows exactly which exercises would be beneficial and which ones could possibly harm you more than you may think.

Remember, unnecessary weight also adds to your problem, which is why exercise should definitely play a role in your daily activities – even if it’s only for 30-minutes per day.

3. Physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy for joint stiffness works wonders in helping your joints and muscles recover. By using clinically tested practices such as massage, mobilisation and clinical Pilates, joint stiffness can become a thing of the past. “We also supplement our treatments with corrective exercise prescription, postural exercise and ergonomic advice, to ensure not only short-term relief from pain but prevention in the longer term.”

Contact us to schedule your physiotherapy session in order to reduce joint stiffness.

4. Consume a healthy diet.

Mostly due to inflammation, joint stiffness needs to be tackled first and foremost by the foods you choose to consume. Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory which can be consumed on a daily basis, along with cherries and grapes. According to Christopher D. Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA, “It relieves symptoms by blocking an enzyme that’s a key component of the inflammatory process.”

5. Acupuncture.

Although not a favourite for everyone, acupuncture has been proven to reduce swelling and stiffness in the joints of those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. In a German study, 15 sessions of acupuncture, along with conventional joint stiffness treatments resulted in more flexibility and mobility than conventional joint stiffness treatments alone. It may not be everyone’s first choice, but acupuncture may be the missing piece to your treatment puzzle.

Incorporating joint stiffness treatment into your daily life could drastically improve your mobility and quality of life – ensuring that you’re able to enjoy the small things in life without having to make drastic changes.

Regardless of why you have joint stiffness in the first place, consuming a healthy diet and adding the above-mentioned joint stiffness remedies will surely help to add a little bit of flexibility to everyday activities.

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Chronic Pain / Rotator Cuff Tears

February 26th, 2017 by admin

Understanding Chronic Pain

Many people use the term Chronic to convey just how excruciating a pain is. However, what the term really means is simply that the pain has been there for longer than three months, even if it’s not very bad. The distinction is made after three months because most injuries to tissues, either muscle, bone or joint, has had a chance to heal and resolve by this time.

Why make the distinction?

The difference between pain that has just happened and pain that has been there for a long time has implications for treatment. Chronic pain requires different management and is likely to be caused by more than one thing where as short-term pain (also known as acute pain) often has a distinct cause, such as a fall.

What are some examples of acute conditions?

A sprained ankle, torn muscle, a bruise and even a broken bone are all examples of injuries that occur suddenly and usually follow a typical pattern of healing. They usually go through an inflammatory reaction with the area being red, hot, swollen and painful to touch. This period usually lasts for a few days and is a normal part of the healing process as the body works to remove damaged tissue and repair the affected area. Different tissue types take varying amounts of time to heal. The severity of the injury will also affect healing times.
Some acute injuries can become chronic if something goes wrong in the healing process. Some acute injuries are so bad they won’t heal without medical care. For example, fractures need to be kept as still as possible to allow the broken bones to heal together in the correct position.

Some pain and illnesses develop over time and are chronic in nature, usually starting insidiously and becoming progressively worse. Osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis are all examples of chronic conditions that can cause chronic pain.

For some people, even though their injury has healed and no significant cause can be found, pain persists. This type of pain can be particularly distressing and requires a holistic approach to treatment, particularly addressing the emotional costs that come with suffering from long-term pain.

Certain factors will predispose someone to developing this type of pain including recent or past emotional trauma, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately chronic pain often causes people to adopt a vicious cycle of rest, which causes more stiffness and pain, which then leads to more pain and so on.

Your physiotherapist is well trained to help you cope with chronic pain and get you back to a more functional level and doing the things you love.

Chronic Pain Project

Sometimes the internet can be a confusing place, full of misinformation, particularly from people trying to sell you things. A recent website developed by the Department of Health in Western Australia aims to provide evidence-based support and education to pain sufferers.

Have a look here at painhealth.csse.uwa.edu.au

Rotator Cuff Tears

WHAT IS THE ROTATOR CUFF?

The rotator cuff refers to four small muscles in the shoulder joint that connect the shoulder blade to the upper arm. They stabilize the shoulder joint, and also act to rotate the shoulder inwards and outwards.
The muscles attach at different points around the shoulder blade and attach as four tendons into the top of the humerus (upper arm bone).

HOW DO THEY TEAR?

These tendons are commonly injured through a fall onto an outstretched arm. However, they can tear from seemingly harmless movements of the arm repeated over a long period of time if the tendons are weakened. This is often referred to as ‘repeated microtrauma’. Tears occur most commonly at the point where the muscle turns into tendon, called the musculotendinous junction.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF I TEAR MY ROTATOR CUFF?

What to expect after a rotator cuff tear depends on how bad the tear is. It is possible to tear the tendon completely in two, which usually requires a surgical repair and subsequent rehabilitation. Partial tears can heal with rehabilitation and the length of time required will depend on the severity of the tear.
Unfortunately, while many rotator cuff tears are resolving and healing, secondary complications begin to occur. The shoulder girdle is a very complex and flexible part of the body and as such is quite vulnerable to pain caused by poor movement patterns
Many people move differently when they have pain. They might tend to elevate the shoulder blade, move their neck less to that side or simply move that arm less.

A common condition associated with rotator cuff tears is shoulder impingement, which is where, due to poor muscle control, structures within the shoulder joint are compressed and irritated as the arm is moved.

CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP?

Physiotherapy is an important part of the rehabilitation process of rotator cuff tears, those both surgically and naturally repaired. Your physiotherapist will help to prevent secondary neck and shoulder problems and give you a strengthening program to restore you to your previous function. For the best outcomes it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible and get started on your rehabilitation program.

Stress Fractures / Healthy Lifestyle Changes

January 19th, 2017 by admin

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a microscopic fracture of the bone that is so small that it often cannot be picked up on X-ray. If left untreated, a stress fracture can cause significant disability and develop into a full fracture, possibly even requiring surgery.

The majority of stress fractures occur in the lower limb, being particularly common in the hip, shins and foot at points where the most force passes through when weight bearing. Most stress fractures are overuse injuries and are common in long distance runners.

What are the symptoms?

As with many overuse injuries, the pain of a stress fracture starts gradually, beginning with pain during or after activity or sometimes the morning after. If activity continues without modification, the pain will gradually increase. Eventually most people are unable to maintain their usual activity level. Stress fractures are very common in runners and in military personnel who are required to march for long periods. A stress fracture will be more likely to occur in a person who has weaker bone strength, such as someone with osteoporosis, which is itself affected by many factors such as calcium intake, vitamin D deficiency and a history of inactivity.

How are stress fractures treated and how long will it take to get better?

Stress fractures can easily be mistaken for other conditions such as shin splints. As the fracture is often too small to show up on X-ray, definitive diagnosis can be made using MRI or bone scan.

After diagnosis, the most important part of treatment will be resting the area to allow the bone to heal before resuming activity. Stress fractures usually need at least 6 weeks to recover fully. Some areas of the body have poor blood supply, which makes healing more complicated. For example, stress fractures of the navicular bone of the foot may need to be kept still and placed in a boot or cast for a period of time to heal properly.
Other aspects of treatment will involve correcting any factors that contributed to the original injury. There is some evidence that unsupportive footwear is a risk factor, along with poor biomechanics and weak muscles that provide inadequate support to the skeletal system during activity. Speak to your physiotherapist if you suspect you may have a stress fracture or simply want to know more.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes To Make This New Year

Most of us start the New Year with some ideas of how we will change our lives for the better. Here are some tips for a better lifestyle and healthier outlook for the coming year.

Be proactive about your health.

Take time to listen to the advice of health care professionals and seek treatment for niggling issues before they become bigger.

Aim to be a little bit more active every week.

You can include any kind of activity, just try to move a little bit more each week. There is nothing more disheartening than starting a new hobby and increasing your program too quickly only to develop an injury that sets you back. Pace yourself with the view of realistically maintaining your new activity.

Take the advice of health professionals.

Physiotherapists know only too well that their advice is not always taken seriously. Unfortunately, some conditions do take hard work and time to resolve. Quick fixes only exist for relatively few conditions and the reality is that problems that develop over a few months don’t resolve overnight. Follow your physio’s advice for the best outcome. (And remember to do your home exercise program!)

Use exercise as a way to improve social and mental wellbeing.

While any amount of exercise will have a positive effect on your mental health, you can use a new hobby to expand your social circle and even improve self-esteem as you find yourself mastering a new skill. Try something a little different!

Pay attention to your diet.

While dietary fads are questionable in their effectiveness, there is no harm in monitoring what you are eating just a little more closely in the New Year. Remember to balance your meals with enough carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Swap sugary drinks for water.

Adequate hydration is an important part of keeping your body functioning well. Sugary drinks can also add a deceptive amount of calories to your daily intake.

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

Workout Soreness / Shoulder Dislocation

December 27th, 2016 by admin

Workout Soreness

Most of us are familiar with the post-exercise soreness that comes after a particularly strenuous exercise session. This pain, which is usually accompanied by stiffness and weakness, is often referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, abbreviated to DOMS.

It is unclear exactly what the purpose of this pain is, as it is maximal approximately 24-48 hours following an intense exercise session. However, we do know that muscles experiencing DOMS show signs of micro-tears throughout the tissues and the effects are worse following eccentric (lengthening under tension) exercises more than other types.

While DOMS is not indicative of any serious injury and has no lasting side effects, it can be very uncomfortable and is problematic for anyone who needs to perform again quickly, such as an athlete in a tournament stretching over a few days.

A person suffering from DOMS may also be at a higher risk of injury if they continue to play sport at their usual level. Understandably, many people are interested in how to avoid or reduce the effects of DOMS.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence on how to reduce DOMS, however high-quality research is limited and there is certainly no quick fix to this problem.

When it comes to avoiding DOMS, both a warm up before exercise and a cool down afterwards are important. Many experts also recommend using a foam roller on affected muscles following exercise. And while many people, particularly long-distance athletes are fond of using anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain after exercise, the evidence shows that its effectiveness is limited and perhaps not worth the side effects of using the medication regularly.

Other advice includes gentle exercise, such as 20 minutes on a stationary bike, and mild stretching. Staying hydrated during sports is always important, and keeping your fluid intake adequate while experiencing soreness afterwards can also help. If you are particularly brave, ice baths have recently been shown to have mild benefits in pain reduction.

Shoulder Dislocations

The shoulder is an amazing joint with incredible flexibility. It doesn’t attach directly to the spine, like the hip joint; instead, it is held to the body through a

complicated system of musculature and indirectly by the collarbone (clavicle) to the front of the rib cage. Many other joints in the body are extremely stable, thanks to the structure of the bones and ligaments surrounding them. However, the shoulder has so much movement that some stability is sacrificed. It is for this reason that shoulder dislocations are a relatively common occurrence.

What is a dislocation and how does it happen?

As the name suggests, a dislocated shoulder is where the head of the upper arm is moved out of its normal anatomical position to sit outside of the shoulder socket joint.
Some people have more flexible joints than others and will unfortunately have joints that slip out of position more easily and without much cause. Other people might never have a dislocated shoulder except for a traumatic injury that suddenly forces it out of position. The shoulder can dislocate in many different directions, the most common being anterior. This occurs when the arm is raised and forced backwards in a ‘stop sign’ position, which can occur in many situations.

What to do if this happens

The first time a shoulder dislocates is usually the most serious. If the shoulder doesn’t just go back in by itself (spontaneous relocation), then a professional will need to to put it back in. This needs to be done by a professional as they must be able to assess what type of dislocation has occurred, and often an X-ray needs to be taken before the relocation happens.

A small fracture can actually occur as the shoulder is being put into place, which is why it is so important to have a professional perform the procedure.

How can physiotherapy help?

Following dislocation, your physiotherapist can advise on how to allow the best healing for the shoulder. It is important to keep the shoulder protected for a period to allow any damaged structures to heal as completely as they possibly can.
After this, a muscle-strengthening and stabilization program can begin. This is aimed at strengthening the muscles around the shoulder to provide further stability and prevent future dislocations.

The information in this newsletter is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a professional for assessment of your individual condition.

Balance / Meniscal Tears

November 21st, 2016 by admin

Proprioception and Balance

Started a new exercise regime lately and noticed your balance isn’t quite up to scratch? Chances are, you need to dial things back a little and return to the basics. Balance is an important part of fitness and improving your balance can dramatically improve your performance.

What is balance?

Balance is a state in which weight is evenly distributed in order to prevent falling.  Balance has major parts:

  • Sight
  • Vestibular system (the inner ear)
  • Proprioception

 

Change any one of these three variables and you’ll challenge your balance in different ways.

 

What is proprioception?

Proprioception refers to the awareness of a person about their body’s position in space.  The origin of the word is derived from Latin, and it translates as “one’s own perception”. The central nervous system gains sensory input from receptors in the skin known as mechanoreceptors. This information is processed by the brain, and helps to translate data sent from the body in the form of vibrations, pressure, motion and joint position.  Proprioception helps to maintain stability.

How can I test and improve my proprioception?

  1. Stand with two feet together.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Count how long you can maintain your balance for.
  4. Try again, this time standing on one foot. Close your eyes only once you have found a steady posture with your eyes open.
  5. To increase difficulty, stand on an uneven surface, like a pillow on the floor. Start by standing with two feet together; stand on one foot if this becomes too easy.

 

While this isn’t a definitive test, if there is a significant difference in your balance when your eyes are open to when your eyes are close, or from the right side to the left side, your proprioception might be a little diminished.

 

Speak to your therapist for more practical tips on how to reduce injury incidence by improving your balance and proprioception.

 

Meniscal Tears:

The knees take a lot of impact when doing medium- or high-impact activities such as running, jumping, hill-walking and playing field sports.  The meniscus is commonly damaged during these activities, and can be a cause of significant pain and movement dysfunction if damaged.  What exactly is this mysterious meniscus, and why is it so important?

 

What is the role of the meniscus?

 

The meniscus is a thin, fibrous cartilage lining the bones of the knee.  Its main function is to absorb shock when performing weight-bearing activities such as walking, running or hopping.

 

The meniscus in the knee is c-shaped, and there is one on the outside (lateral) and one on the inside (medial) of the knee joint. The medial meniscus is more commonly damaged than the lateral meniscus, because of the fact that more weight is transferred through the medial knee joint in normal movement.

 

What causes meniscal damage?

 

Twisting forces most frequently damage the meniscus.  For example, if a soccer player’s foot is planted on the ground and their body rotates around the knee, the meniscus will often be unable to withstand the pressure and will sustain a strain or a tear.  This can be of varying degrees, to a few stretched fibres right up to a large tear involving multiple areas of the cartilage. A locking, clicking or clunking may be felt in the knee upon movement.  Your therapist will be able to perform clinical tests to check whether the meniscus is likely to have been damaged or not.

 

Can I recover from a meniscal injury?

 

Depending on the extent and location of the injury, many patients have excellent functional outcomes with physiotherapy management. This typically involves strengthening the muscles around the knee as well as increasing the range and training task-specific activities. Sometimes, a referral to an orthopaedic specialist may be necessary to determine whether or not surgery may be appropriate.  If you have any doubts, talk to your physiotherapist about your options.

 

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for individual advice. Always see a professional for advice on your individual injury.

Running Tips / Common Running Injuries

October 14th, 2016 by admin

Running Tips For Beginners

If you’ve just taken up running, you probably think that getting started is simple – you just run as far as you can and then run further the next time. Like most things, the reality is a little more complicated. Here are some tips to make the most of your running program and avoid injury.

• Don’t overdo it.

Rest is actually a big part of a training program. Your body needs time to recover and rebuild muscle. Not giving yourself adequate time to rest leads to greater risk of injury and you won’t improve as quickly as you might think. Aim to run three times a week.

• Don’t forget strength training.

Even if you’re trying to improve endurance, surprisingly, increasing strength can make a big difference. Particularly if you focus on specific muscles that may be weaker on one side of the body. This is also an important part of injury prevention. Your physiotherapists can help you to identify any weak muscles and develop a strengthening program.

• Your shoes and running surface matter.

Running on hard or uneven surfaces leads to a greater risk of injury than running on grass, which allows for a more natural distribution of forces through your foot. Having shoes that fit your foot properly and also provide necessary support is an essential part of your injury prevention plan.

• Listen to your body.

As you improve and push your abilities forward there will be many aches and pains. Most will only last for a day or two and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a normal if not annoying part of getting stronger. However, if pain feels more serious, lasts for more than 48 hours or is preventing you from running speak to a professional as soon as possible. Running injuries do happen and can take a while to resolve. Early treatment is the best option for good outcomes.
Speak to your therapist for more practical tips on how to improve your running and prevent injuries.

Common Running Injuries

Running is a great way to stay in shape, manage stress and increase your overall wellbeing, however it’s not without it’s drawbacks. While being a low risk activity, there are a few injuries that commonly affect runners. As running is a repetitive impact activity, most running injuries develop slowly and can be difficult to treat. Here are three of the most common conditions faced by runners.

1. Runner’s Knee:

Runners knee is a persistent pain on the inside of the knee caused by the dysfunctional movement of the kneecap during movement. The kneecap ideally sits in the centre of the knee and glides smoothly up and down as the knee bends and straightens, in a process described as tracking. If something causes the kneecap to track abnormally, the surface underneath can become worn, irritated and painful. The pain might be small to start with, however left untreated, runner’s knee can make running too painful to continue.

2. Shin Splints:

Shin splints is a common condition characterised by a recurring pain at the inside of the shin. While the cause of this condition is not always clear, it is usually due to repeated stress where the calf muscles attach to the tibia (shin bone). Why this becomes painful is likely due to a combination of factors that can be identified by your physiotherapist to help you get back on track as soon as possible.

3. Achilles Tendonitis:

The Achilles tendon is the thick tendon at the back of the ankle that attaches to the calf muscles. The amount of force that this tendon can absorb is impressive and is vital in providing the propulsive force needed for running. If the stresses placed on the tendon exceed its strength, the tendon begins to breakdown and become painful.

None of the information in this newsletter is a replacement for proper medical advice. See one of our professionals for advice on your individual injury.

Improving with Age? / Golfers Elbow

July 19th, 2016 by admin

Surprising Skills That Improve With Age

Many of us associate aging with a decline of skills and quality of life. However, the truth is not as black and white as this. While certain skills and functions do tend to suffer as we age, surprisingly there are many abilities that actually improve as we grow older.
Recent studies have shown that happiness is U-shaped, proving that the mid-life crisis is real, with the ages between 40-60 holding the highest amount of stress and responsibility for adults. It seems that happiness increases steadily after this period, with the average 80 year old reporting themselves to be as happy as the average 20 year old.

There is also evidence that your beliefs about aging can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are positive about aging, then your experience will be more positive than if you have negative beliefs about it.

It’s not only good news about your mental health though. Studies have also shown that while your short-term memory might decline, other skills such as creativity can actually increase. One of the biggest reasons for a decline in skill and function is the disuse that comes with retirement from work. Keeping active and mentally stimulated can be enough to keep your skills up to speed.
It has also been shown that confidence grows in both genders as we age. Making decisions becomes easier as we know ourselves better and have a wealth of experience to draw on when a tricky situation arises.

Certain physical skills such as strength and agility might decline, however it seems that other aspects of physical ability might increase, including endurance. There are many triathletes who are in their 70s, 80s, and unbelievably even in their 90s. In the absence of any serious disability, it might be the case that age is an excuse rather than an actual hindrance to being active.

Verbal ability and vocabulary are also skills that improve as we age, which may explain why crosswords are so popular with the elderly. Making the most of your abilities at every age is important, so try not to let age be a barrier to trying new things and keeping active.

Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and Chiropracctors are dedicated to helping people stay active at any age and can help you with achieving your goals. Speak to your therapist for more information.

Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

Golfer’s elbow is defined as chronic degeneration of the tendon on the inside of the elbow, usually due to overuse. As its name implies, it is a condition common in golfers. However, as with many sporting injuries, this condition can affect anyone. Golfer’s elbow is similar to Tennis elbow, but occurring on the inside of the elbow rather than the outside.

What are the symptoms?
Typically, someone suffering from this condition will experience pain on the inside of the elbow, forearm and possibly extending down to the hand. The pain will be worst with activities that require gripping of the hand and movements of the wrist. Less common is the experience of pins and needles in the hand.

How does it happen?
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, however it is generally thought to occur when the forces transmitted through the tendon become too great. This can be due to increased demands on the tendon or reduced quality of the tendon tissues.
As the tendon is attached to muscles that bend the wrist and provide grip strength, activities such as golf, rock climbing or manual work that involve gripping objects can possibly create forces that damage the tendon.
Conversely, factors such as poor blood supply or simply the normal processes of aging can reduce the quality of the tendon. If the tissue is not functioning well, then even simple but repetitive movements in an office job can cause Golfer’s elbow.
There are a few other known contributing factors for Golfer’s elbow, such as poor posture, neck dysfunction, a recent change in activity and a history of trauma, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand.

What is the treatment?
Golfer’s elbow usually develops slowly, and healing can be a long process. The first step to effective treatment is accurate diagnosis, as many other conditions have similar symptoms and need to be excluded first by a professional.
Once a diagnosis of golfer’s elbow has been confirmed, treatment is aimed at allowing tissues to heal and regenerate. This will require a certain level of rest, and changes to the forces affecting the tissues, sometimes through bracing or taping.
Specific exercises have been shown to assist tissues in coping with and responding to load; these are called “eccentric” exercises. Other treatments include increasing blood flow to the area to promote healing. In chronic and severe cases, injections of corticosteroids are used, or autologous blood injections. In severe cases surgery may be undertaken.

The information in this newsletter is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a professional for assessment of your individual condition.

Sprains vs Strains / Ankle Sprains

February 27th, 2016 by admin

Strains and sprains are words that are used almost interchangeably when describing injuries, however they each actually have quite distinctly different meanings. The most straightforward explanation is that a “strain” refers to a tear in a muscle or tendon, while a “sprain” refers to a tear in ligament fibres. Below we briefly describe what that means and how we treat sprains and strains differently.

Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect and hold bones to other bones. These are very strong parts of your anatomy and, depending on the joint, provide large amounts of support and stability to the body.

Some ligaments are so strong, for example in the shoulder, that sometimes a bone will break before the ligament will tear. When ligament fibres do tear, the nearby joint can actually feel unstable.

Ligament tears will usually swell up and have a normal inflammatory reaction. Pain will be worse with movement or if the ligament is placed under more stress. Occasionally, if a ligament has torn all the way through, there is much less pain than with a less severe injury.

Your physiotherapist is able to grade the severity of a ligament sprain, which will help guide treatment and expected recovery times. Muscle strains are easy to confuse with ligament sprains, however there are a few telltale differences. Following a muscle tear, it is more likely that you’ll feel weakness rather than instability. The pain will also be isolated over the muscle or tendon body. An injury to a ligament will be tender over the site of the ligament and special tests can be done to confirm the extent of the injury.

Treatment is also slightly different as sprains will need more support and will sometimes even need to be braced, whereas muscle strains will benefit from gentle movements earlier. In both cases, following the basic principles of rest, ice, compression and elevation is great advice in the early stages of any injury. Heat is not recommended until at least two days after the injury.

It is important to seek professional opinion when recovering from both a strain and a sprain. It is very easy to re-injure an area while it is healing if undertaking strenuous activity too early and without correct rehabilitation. Speak to your therapist for more information.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are extremely common, however, this doesn’t make them easy to cope with when they happen to you. If you’ve ever spent two weeks hobbling around on crutches after an unfortunate twist, you’ll understand just how painful and difficult they can be.

What are they?

Ankle sprains refer to a tear to the ligament fibres of the ankle. Commonly, a person will roll their ankle inwards and tear the ligament on the outside. Occasionally, the ankle will twist outwards and the ligaments on the inside of the ankle are torn and even less commonly, the fibres of the ligament that hold the two bones of the lower leg together tear (high ankle sprain). A sprained ankle will usually be painful, swollen, bruised, difficult to walk on and in some cases unstable.

How does it happen?

Ankle sprains can occur from something as simple as putting weight onto your leg when you think your foot is flat even though it’s not. The most typical pattern is of a person jumping and landing on the outside of their foot or simply slipping and twisting their ankle. A sprained or twisted ankle is one of the most common injuries presented to emergency departments around the world. This is important as a severely sprained ankle can actually have very similar symptoms to a broken ankle and will need an X-ray. 

A medical professional should assess any severe sprain. However, there are some guidelines to help decide if a sprained ankle needs X-ray.
You are unable to put weight on the ankle immediately after the injury.
You are unable to take more than 4 steps immediately after the injury.
Pain on the bony edges of the outer foot and ankle.
How long do sprains take to heal?

Depending on the severity of the tear, from one to six weeks. Your physiotherapist is able to help with recovery and ensure nothing slows down the healing. Following any injury of the body, joints may remain a little stiff and lose strength and control. Even though the injured tissues have healed, the ankle doesn’t move quite the way it used to. This means that your risk of twisting it again is higher than before the injury.

How can physiotherapy help?

Correct rehabilitation can help to prevent recurring injuries. As well as providing support to the unstable ankle, your physiotherapist will help you to strengthen any weak muscles and restore balance and control through exercise. They are also able to correct any abnormal movement of the joint following swelling.

The information in this newsletter is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for assessment of your individual condition.

Orthopaedic Surgery & Physio / Metatarsalgia

February 7th, 2016 by admin

Orthopaedic surgery is any surgery performed primarily on the musculoskeletal system of the body. Common orthopaedic surgeries you may have heard of are joint replacements and reconstructions.

Physiotherapists have a large role to play in the recovery of these kinds of surgeries especially in the more extensive operations, such as a total hip or knee replacement.

It is not unusual to wake up in the hospital a few hours post-op knee replacement, hip replacement or shoulder reconstruction, to have your hospital-based physio asking you to get out of bed for the first time. This may seem daunting and entirely too early, however there is very well researched evidence for why getting out of bed early is so important: your speedy return to normal health and wellbeing!

Hospital-based physiotherapy typically includes re-learning how to walk and making initial improvements on your range of movement and function of the affected joint. The physio will also help you maintain healthy respiratory function by checking your lungs regularly. Drugs administered during surgery change your breathing pattern, which can lead to complications in the days after surgery, and hence the need for physiotherapy management.

Following your in-patient stay, it is highly likely your surgeon will request for you to continue with outpatient physiotherapy either in an outpatient hospital-based setting or in a private-practice setting.

With your outpatient physio, your recovery will be measured and monitored, goals will be discussed and set, and you will be given an exercise program created to achieve those goals.
Physiotherapists use a variety of treatment methods to assist a post-operative orthopaedic surgery patients achieve their goals. These include soft tissue work, stretching, hydrotherapy, manual therapy and gym or home based exercise.

Recovery from orthopaedic surgery can take up to 12 months to occur. During this time, it is not unusual to experience bouts of pain and swelling; however these episodes should reduce the further into rehabilitation you progress.

Many post-operative orthopaedic surgery patients can expect to return to a normal life following a period of rehabilitation guided by a physiotherapist. This includes return to some sport and regular exercise!

Note: Please seek professional advice prior to beginning a post-operative exercise program.

Metatarsalgia

What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a medical term used to describe pain that occurs in the ball of the foot. This occurs due to rubbing of the long bones of the foot, called metatarsals, causing inflammation. Build-up of inflammation in the ball of the foot compresses the small nerves that run between the toes and along the foot. Inflammation and compression of these small nerves is painful.
The pain can involve one or more joints of the foot including the big toe, second toe and third toe. It is unlikely to include the fourth or fifth joints. On occasion, the pain may involve the entire foot, or larger parts of the foot.
The pain or symptoms may be made worse when bearing weight through the foot, such as walking or running. In severe cases, just standing or even wearing tight footwear can affect the foot.

How does it happen?

Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of things. An abrupt change in posturing of the lower back or pelvis may alter the way the foot is loaded, and cause rubbing of the long bones. Altered loading of the foot may also be caused by arthritic conditions that affect the knees, hips or pelvis and carrying extra weight.

Unavoidable factors, which may lead to the development of metatarsalgia, include increased age, and the physical shape of the foot and toe. As your body ages, the ligaments of the foot may loosen or weaken. Therefore, the bones of the foot move differently leading to altered positioning and loading of the foot.

Avoidable factors, which may lead to the development of metatarsalgia, include wearing inappropriately fitting footwear, and the type of exercise performed. Metatarsalgia is more highly associated with high impact-type exercise such as running or gymnastics.

What are the signs and symptoms of Metatarsalgia?

The signs and symptoms of metatarsalgia may vary from person to person. Generally, a complaint of pain is common. This may range from mild to severe, or may be described as burning or shooting pain in the foot or toes. Another common description is a tingling sensation in the foot or toes.

Typically, symptoms worsen when weight bearing and improve once weight is removed from the foot.

How can Physio help?

Your physiotherapist will determine the cause of the metatarsalgia pain and assist you with adapting your posture, or improving the loading pattern of your foot. You may be advised to unload the foot by reducing or stopping exercise, changing the shoe you wear, or strengthening certain muscles in your legs.

Electrotherapeutic modalities such as icing, ultrasound or interferential therapy may be of assistance to reduce pain and inflammation in the beginning stages of treatment as well.

The information in this newsletter is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a professional for assessment of your individual condition.

Injury Healing / Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

January 31st, 2016 by admin

Physiotherapy And Injury Healing
There is no doubt that the human body can be very resilient. Short of regenerating new limbs, the body is capable of recovering from amazing amounts of damage, including broken bones. Many people may feel that physiotherapy treatment will only speed up recovery and if they are not elite athletes then simply letting nature take its course is the best, and most cost effective choice for them.
Speed of recovery, however, is only one very small measure of physiotherapy success and fails to fully represent how important proper treatment is. Here are a few things about injury healing you may not have been aware of.
1. Scar Tissue is more likely to form without treatment.
Scar tissue can cause ongoing pain and stiffness in skin, muscles and ligaments. Physiotherapy can prevent excess scarring through advice regarding movement, massage and other hands on treatment.
2. Your ability to sense the position of your body, known as proprioception, is often damaged after an injury and can be retrained.
Impaired proprioception is a major factor in re-injury. If you’ve ever heard someone say “my knee/ankle/shoulder still doesn’t feel 100%” then this could be why. Physiotherapy treatment will aim to restore proprioception as a part of standard rehabilitation.
3. Once healing has finished, your body may not be exactly the same as before.
Ligaments may be looser, muscles and joints may be stiffer and almost always weaker. While the pain may be gone, there may still be some issues that need to be addressed to prevent ongoing and more complicated issues in the future.
4. You may have picked up some bad habits while waiting for the injury to heal.
While in pain, we often change the way we do things, this can lead to the development of poor movement patterns and muscle imbalances. Even though the pain has gone, these new patterns can remain and create further problems down the road.
5. Injuries don’t always heal completely.

On rare occasions, circumstances may prevent an injury from healing fully. The most serious example of this would be a fracture that cannot heal if the bone is not kept still enough. Other factors that may prevent an injury from healing include poor circulation, diabetes, insufficient care of the injury and poor nutrition.

Your physiotherapist can assess your injury and develop a treatment plan that will both restore you to the best possible function and prevent further injuries.

Focus On….Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
WHAT IS IT?
Carpal Tunnel syndrome is a progressive disorder caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist. The carpal tunnel refers to a space or “tunnel’ at the front of the wrist where tendons and nerves pass from the wrist to the hand. The median nerve is most commonly affected. This nerve controls sensation to the palm, side of the thumb and fingers, (excluding the little finger). The median nerve also sends impulses to some of the small muscles that allow the fingers and thumb to move.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Symptoms usually begin gradually with frequent burning, tingling or itching/numbness in the palm of the hand and fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers. Your fingers may feel fat and swollen, even if they aren’t. Symptoms are often relieved by shaking of the wrists, even if only temporarily.
These symptoms may show up during the night as many people sleep with their wrists bent. Gradually, tingling symptoms may increase and grip strength may begin to weaken, which can affect your ability to form a fist, grasp small objects or perform other manual tasks. Left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can result in permanent nerve damage.

WHAT CAUSES CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Because this tunnel is made from the ligaments and bones of the hand, it is quite rigid, and any thing that causes the narrow space to be taken up can compress the structures that sit within. Often the tendons that pass through the carpal tunnel will become thickened or swollen through overuse, resulting in compression of the median nerve. People who suffer from thyroid or pituitary disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, wrist dysfunction, work related stress or use of vibrating tools are more likely to develop this disorder.
Women are three times as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome as men, this is thought to be due to smaller wrist dimensions.
HOW CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP?
Your physiotherapist or doctor can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome with specific tests. Neck pathology can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome and it is important that a correct diagnosis is made. In many cases, symptoms can be resolved with physiotherapy, where you will be advised of rest, wrist splinting, exercises, manual therapy, dry needling and postural changes to prevent further injury.
Physiotherapy treatment is almost always recommended before considering other treatments such as surgical release or cortisone injection and is often very effective, particularly in mild and moderate cases. For more information, don’t hesitate to ask your physiotherapist.

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