We get many amazing people walk through our doors every day. Samara James is one of those people. A competitive senior gymnast, who, through hard work and determination, has returned to her sport after a huge injury. Physio Nicole interviewed Samara, so we could share some more information about this amazing young lady.1. When and how did you get started in gymnastics?I got started in gymnastics at the age of 3 in a kinder gym class because my big sister did gymnastics at the time.2. What are your achievements to date?I have worked my way through the levels to now be a senior gymnast. I have attended many competitions over the years including state championships for level 4 and 6. In 2014 after suffering an injury, I went on to be awarded most improved gymnast for my team and the next year qualify for States. Last year I came 3rd at the Regional Championships and qualified for the State squad team.3. What are your goals for 2018?My main goal for 2018 is to compete at level 7. In order to do this I need to have made a complete recovery and regained all of the skills I lost prior to my injury.4. How has physio helped you?In August 2017 I dislocated and fractured both elbows during a tumble on floor. If it wasn’t for Nicole and physio, I am sure I would never had regained my elbow strength. Because of physio I had my full range of movement back after just a few months and was back training after just 2 months following the injury. It felt like we were taking it slow however by gradually building my strength and movement I haven’t experienced any setbacks and have made steady progress . Now 7 months later I am almost 100% back and preparing for the competition season, including completing skills such as back handsprings.
Spinal stenosis a narrowing of the canal, that a spinal nerve travels through, leading to nerve irritation and pain. Rod McRae has spinal stenosis and through hard work and exercise has achieved amazing goals.
Rod wanted to be able to lie flat without pain, stand up from a chair pain free and get out into the garden. Due to his hard work with his exercise classes and physiotherapy, he has been able to manage his back symptoms and improve his overall function. He can now lie flat, stand up straight without too much pain and spend more time in the garden. His hard work and patience with rehabilitation has really paid off. Thanks for your hard work Rod! Amazing progress like this really makes our job worthwhile!
MRI, CT, X-Ray, Ultra-Sound scans – are they necessary to diagnose your back pain?
On a daily basis, I have patients come into the clinic with low back pain. The majority of patients have heard horror stories about someone else who has back pain and are usually terrified that their back is permanently damaged beyond repair. In most cases, they come with scans that they have been referred for (usually an x-ray, MRI or CT). In the majority of cases, these scans will show findings such as disc bulges/protrusions, end plate narrowing, osteophytes, degeneration, and in some cases fusion of joints.
All of these things sound extremely scary! But the truth is in 85% of cases these findings are IRRELEVANT!
Research is consistently showing that in the majority of cases, (over 85%), the cause of a person’s low back pain cannot be attributed to the spinal abnormalities shown on a scan.
In fact findings such as disc protrusions, facet degeneration, end plate narrowing, and osteophytes are actually a normal part of the aging process.
Research has been conducted which shows that scans were taken on people with no low back pain or history of low back pain also show these findings. Therefore there is a large portion of the population walking around with disc protrusions and significant degeneration in their backs and they have NO PAIN! This means that in the majority of cases a scan will not change the management of your low back pain.
So what causes the pain?
There are many structures in the back that can potentially cause low back pain. In my experience generally its overactivity of big muscle groups, muscle strains and ligament injury that cause pain. Generally, there is muscle spasm and tightness around an injured joint which compresses the joint and causes pain. Swelling in an area can also cause nerve irritation which can refer pain into the groin, buttock, and leg.
There are a group of patients for which scans are useful. These are patients that present with more sinister pathology that is long lasting (longer than 6 weeks). These people will also have symptoms such as muscle weakness, foot drop, change to their bladder and bowel function, pins and needles in their saddle region, and reduced reflexes. In these cases, scans play an important role in diagnosis and referral to a specialist may be required.
The good news
The majority of low back pain cases can be successfully treated with Physiotherapy. If it is the first time you’ve had low back pain and you have had it for less than 6 weeks, your pain is usually resolved (with physio) in less than 6-12 weeks. In most cases, if the treatment plan is followed (strengthening exercises are completed), the low back pain will not re-occur. The good news about this is that you have control over your recovery and the pain is not ongoing!
So if you or someone you care about is experiencing low back pain make sure you get them to come in for a check with a Physiotherapist. If you have a scan you would like explained feel free to book a consultation today with one of our lovely staff, who will happily answer your questions and address your concerns.
We look forward to helping you move and feel your best!