Normal Aging, How Does it Look on the Inside?

A lot of my patients have to me come with a scan (X-ray, CT Scan or MRI) they have had done because they had some pain somewhere and a helpful doctor has referred them for imaging.  Not in and of itself a bad practice per se, but sometimes it can lead to people thinking they are more frail than they actually are.

Now, medical imaging is a GREAT tool available to us, and can absolutely pick up things unseen by the naked eye, things like tumours, cancer, growths, broken bones and stress fractures, etc.  When patients exhibit a certain set of symptoms, referral for imaging is paramount, and I am not questioning this.

What I am questioning is when someone has some pain that does not necessarily point to sinister pathology, but gets sent for a scan.  The problem, is that there is absolutely no scan in the world that will show pain, so what often ends up happening is the doctor/radiologist makes a comment on what they see in the scan and presto, that is the 'cause'...

Now, the doctor or radiologist is not wrong in what they see, but the connection between what is in the scan and your pain is not clear.  As an example we'll use back pain (but the same things happens with the neck, knees and shoulders); disc bulges, decreased disc height, thinner cartilage, 'degenerative disc disease' are all comments that can be made after an X-ray or MRI of the low back. 

What happens though when someone WITHOUT pain gets imaging?  A series of studies were done that looked at exactly this, and what did they find; almost exactly the same amount of 'disease' and 'degenerative changes' as people with pain.  So what causes all these changes? In a word, aging.  It happens to all of us eventually right, just like grey hair and wrinkles, it is inevitable, but it DOES NOT mean that you are guaranteed to have pain because of it!

This is a very important point to make, because pain is multi-factorial, and beliefs about what causes pain does in fact affect what pain we feel.  Our brains are very powerful, and if you believe something is going to hurt, guess what, it will.

So what can we do?  Move; exercise is paramount to reducing your risk of pain, especially joint pain, because our joints are supported by and moved by muscles.  The stronger our muscles are, the more support our joints have, plus you will get all the ancillary benefits of exercise.

It sounds simple, but it isn't necessarily easy, so if you have any questions, please see your physiotherapist about getting you moving again and giving your exercises to help reduce your risk of pain.

Men's Health - What is it?

Pelvic health is an important aspect of a healthy body, and there have been lots of traction gained with women's health and pregnancy, which is fantastic, but what about men?  An internet search of your area will undoubtedly show multiple options for Women's health, a reflection of the fact that not only are more people offering services, but more women are seeking help.  However, not many searches turn up options for Men's health. Why is this you ask, well there may be stigma associated with men seeking help for pelvic floor issues, as well as there is not a lot of awareness that it’s EVEN an issue. 

Not long ago (15 years or so) a family member of mine was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had their prostate removed; overall a great success, no more cancer, and they are still alive and healthy.  While their surgeon certainly informed them about the risks of bladder dysfunction, it was more about preparing for the inevitable; not once did that family member ever receive information about how to improve their pelvic health and ACTUALLY TAKE CONTROL.

There has been a lot more literature on the subject in the last 5 or so years, and more practitioners are branching out into this area, and more awareness is being raised, that indeed men have a pelvic floor, and no, it is not always going to function properly.

The pelvic floor is a very important part of our complex muscular system, and while its main function is bladder/bowel control and sexual function, its dysfunction can be implicated in low back pain, hip and groin pain, sexual dysfunction and pain, and bladder/bowel control issues.

I believe that every man who has surgery related to the prostate should see a men's health physiotherapist before hand to assess pelvic floor function and afterwards to rehabilitate.  If you have not had any prostate-related issues, but do have pain in/around the groin and you also have low back pain or hip pain, it may be worth seeing a men's health physiotherapist. If this sounds like you, please don't hesitate to call us to book an appointment, as the possible positive impact far outweighs any stigma or embarrassment .