Compartment Syndrome: The muscle pain not to be missed!

Compartment Syndrome: The muscle pain not to be missed!

Earlier this year, St Kilda football club’s caption, Jarryn Geary, sustained an innocuous quad corkie, which later developed into compartment syndrome requiring immediate emergency surgery. Compartment syndrome is a serious condition which can occur acutely or over time and often requires prompt medical attention. Do you know the signs and symptoms to look out for?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - A different shoulder diagnosis

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - A different shoulder diagnosis

The ‘Thoracic Outlet’ describes the compression of nerves (brachial plexus), arteries and veins resulting in pain, and altered sensations in and around the neck, chest and shoulder area. This is a rare syndrome only affecting 8% of the population.


Optimising recovery from surgery:

Regardless of what it’s for, surgery can be scary and overwhelming. It is normal to feel a sense of helplessness or feeling as if you don’t have control over the end outcome. However, it is important to understand that you play the single most important role in the outcome of your recovery and it starts long before you meet with your surgeon. Preparing your body and mind for what you are about to encounter is an important aspect of recovery and creates good habits for your post-surgery rehabilitation.


How do you do this, you ask?


We call this Prehab


Prehab is a programme designed to prevent injuries before they actually occur. This can be applied to anyone or any injury however in the context of surgery it is you taking an active approach to prepare yourself physically and mentally for what you are about to go through. It plays a massive part in giving you the power to control the success of your upcoming surgery.


Why should you do Prehab?


Numerous studies have shown that patients who participate in Prehab have significantly better outcomes than those who do not. Those who undergo prehab generally have quicker recovery times, return to sport faster, have less complications and are generally more satisfied with their end outcome.


Does this apply to me?


Prehab is highly recommended for anyone planning to undertake or has been referred for surgery. Research has shown Prehab to be effective in enhancing recovery for patients undergoing total hip and knee replacements, ACL reconstructions, shoulder surgery such as rotator cuff repairs and lower back surgery.



What does it involve and how long for?


Ideally, undergoing 6-12 weeks of Prehab prior to surgery will optimise post-surgical outcomes. In most situations this is not possible due to availability with your surgeon. This does not mean that Prehab won’t help be helpful for you. As they say, something is better than nothing and there are still many meaningful benefits to be gained with only 2 weeks of preparation.


5 reasons to Prehab:


1.     Get control of your pain:


 A prehab program should give you the tools to minimise pain. Reducing pain early will enable normal muscle activity and put you in a good head space leading up to surgery.


2.     Get in optimal physical shape:


Through a specific exercise program, you can improve muscle strength, flexibility, balance and coordination which has shown to optimise and speed up the recovery process post-surgery. Additionally, improving general fitness and wellbeing has many added benefits such as weight loss and improving mental resilience which is extremely important to recovery.



3.     Create good habits and kick the bad habits


Firstly, creating good habits beforehand will make your life so much easier once you have been discharged from hospital. Good habits start with getting in a healthy exercise regime This extends to healthy sleep, nutrition and lifestyle habits which your physiotherapist and health practitioners can guide you on.


Conversely, bad habits will have the opposite effect, so you can imagine the importance in changing these prior to surgery.


4.     Manage anxiety/stress


It is completely normal to feel anxious or stressed prior to surgery. In addition to physically preparing yourself you must also get yourself in the right headspace. Prehab will help mentally prepare you by getting you in a good mindset for the upcoming rehabilitation process. It will also teach you appropriate coping strategies to deal with pain and stress associated with the injury.



5.     Speed up your recovery and reduce post-operative complications


Prehab sets you up for a successful recovery leading to quicker recovery and return to sport times. It also reduces the risk of common complications associated with surgery.



Please feel free to contact our team at East Vic Park Physio on 9361 3777 if you have any questions or would like to find out if Prehab is appropriate for you.

AC Joint pain - The "Other" Shoulder Pain


The Acromioclavicular (AC) joint is located at the lateral tip of the shoulder. The joint is formed by two bones, the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (a portion of the scapula/shoulder blade). In between the joint sits a fibrocartilage meniscal disc and the bones are connected by a number of ligaments, muscles and a joint capsule.


The AC joint acts as a pivot point in the shoulder allowing the shoulder blade to rotate as the arm is lifted upwards. If it is dysfunctional it affects the control of your shoulder.


The AC joint is very commonly injured in contact sports that involve tackling like rugby or AFL. This is classified as a traumatic injury in which the ligaments can be torn and the capsule disrupted which results in the bone separating. However, you can also have AC joint pain from overloading the joint or degeneration of the fibrocartilage meniscus. It can also develop into a condition called osteolysis which is quite common in gym goers.

Differentiation from “bursitis” or impingement (common shoulder pain)

Shoulder bursitis/impingement is a very common condition in which the bursa and tendons in the shoulder get inflamed or overloaded. Often a cortisone injection is prescribed which can reduce the pain if the bursa is the main issue. However, if it is not the correct diagnosis then ongoing pain and disability can perpetuate. It is very important to get your shoulder assessed by a physiotherapist to differentiate between the two conditions so the right treatment plan can be selected. Please note that Impingement CAN occur as a result of AC joint pain or injury but is not the primary diagnosis.

Common presentation

·         Pain at the top or tip of the shoulder

·         Difficulty lying on the shoulder

·         Difficulty bringing the arm across the body

·         Pain with lifting an object above your head

·         Pain with gym activities like bench press

General advice

·         Try icing the area especially when it is painful

·         Rubbing voltaren gel on the area can help reduce pain, the joint is superficial enough for the gel to have some effect

·         Applying taping to pull the shoulder upwards can take the pressure off the joint and relieve discomfort

·         A structured rehab program is helpful in making the muscles around the joint stronger so there is less load on the area

·         A cortisone injection can be helpful if conservative treatment isn’t effective, as long as they inject the right spot

·         Most importantly, visit your highly trained physiotherapist for a thorough assessment and in-depth treatment plan



Whether your sports season is heading into finals or you are about to start gearing up for the summer season ahead, the information presented will help you to perform at your best.