All posts in Foot orthotics

Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee Osteoarthritis

What is it?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative joint disease that affects almost all the joints of the body. The knees are some of the most commonly affected joints, with many people experiencing at least a small degree of osteoarthritis over the age of 40. The disease is characterized by degradation of the cartilage that lines the surfaces of the joint, growth of osteophytes or bony spurs, pain, stiffness and swelling.

What are the symptoms?

Stiffness in the morning that lasts less than 20 minutes and pain with movement, clicking, crepitus, swelling and a generalized reduction in joint range of motion are all common symptoms of osteoarthritis. As OA is a progressive disease, the condition is categorized into stages to help describe symptoms and guide treatment. Early stages of OA may have only mild symptoms, however as the disease progresses, a joint replacement may be required.

What causes it?

While aging is the most significant risk factor for the development of OA, it’s not an inevitable outcome of growing older. Other factors that may predict the development of OA are obesity, family history, previous joint injury, high impact sporting activities and peripheral neuropathy. It is thought that abnormal wear and tear or stress on the joint is the primary cause of OA. It is also important to note that many people will have changes on X-Ray that show OA, however, will have no symptoms – which indicates that simply having OA is not a sentence for having pain.

What is the treatment?

Your physiotherapist is first able to help diagnosis and differentiate OA from other conditions that may have similar symptoms. An X-Ray can confirm the diagnosis and can be helpful in determining the best course of treatment to follow.

While OA is a progressive disorder, there is often a significant improvement that can be made simply by addressing lifestyle factors and any biomechanical factors that may be contributing to pain.

How can physio help?

Your physiotherapist is able to guide you with strengthening exercises to support the joint, advice for adapting your exercise routine and can even help you to lose weight, all of which have been shown to have a positive impact on the symptoms of OA.

If surgery is the right course for you, your physiotherapist is able to guide you through this treatment pathway, helping you to prepare and recover from surgery to get the best outcome possible.

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


Biomechanical Running Analysis

Biomechanical Running Analysis

Running Analysis

A Running Analysis at Saanich Physio involves one of our experienced Physiotherapists observing and assessing how you run. We will watch you in real time and also video you, so that we can analyse your form in slow motion.

This kind of analysis is helpful whether you have an injury or if you want to know if you are running with optimal technique. We will explain our findings to you, with analysis of how certain movement patterns or imbalances may contribute to your injury or efficiency as a runner.

We highly recommend this no matter what level of ability you are, whether a beginner, weekend jogger or competitive athlete.

We Are Runners
We feel that in order to understand runners and running injuries, it’s helpful to be a runner yourself. Our Physiotherapists are all keen runners and between them have competed in short and mid distance track events all the way up to half marathons, full marathons and ultra-marathon distances.

Video Analysis
We watch you run in real time, then record you and analyse your form using slow motion video. We will outline how your form compares to the ideal. We will only look to change particular elements of your form if it is impacting on your injury, efficiency or if it will help you prevent injury.

We focus on education, with a clear explanation of our findings and how they impact your body. We work with you to achieve a more efficient running technique.


Our aim is to get you back running as quickly as possible if injury is stopping you. We will provide specifically targeted exercises and a return to running program if needed. Our aim is to help you achieve a stronger form, become more efficient, and prevent injury.

Our experienced Saanich Physiotherapists will analyse your running technique and help you achieve better form to prevent injury and maximise efficiency.
Your Physiotherapist will start by discussing your running program and injury history with you.

They will then video you running. From observing you in real time and also through slow motion recording, they will explain what ideal running form is and how your technique compares.

Based on the findings from the video analysis we can give you specific and individualised cues to help improve your form. You will have a chance within the session to practice this on the treadmill and review your video footage.

A biomechanical assessment may also be performed to test your joints and muscles for flexibility and strength. From this information we will create a specific and focused treatment plan that will work to correct your imbalances and help you become a better runner.

Three Steps to Better Form

Video analysis and running assessment software

Biomechanical assessment of your strength and flexibility

Personalised video home exercise program which can be accessed on your smartphone or computer

Conditions Treated

Patellofemoral joint injury/runner’s knee

Gluteal tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy

Patellar tendinopathy

Shin splints

Hamstring tendinopathy

Groin pain

Tibialis posterior tendon injury

Plantar fasciitis

Iliotibial band syndrome

Hip impingement, labral injuries

Foot pain

Stress fractures

Chronic strains and sprains

and more!


Shockwave Therapy- a force to be reckoned with.

Shockwave Therapy- a force to be reckoned with.

K. Raveendran MD, Trauma Surgeon
International Journal of Surgery
Volume 24, Part B, December 2015, Pages 113-114

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) was first used in vivo for the disintegration of renal and ureteric calculi in 1980 followed shortly by its use for gallbladder calculi in 1985.

In 1988, the use of these acoustic waves was tried successfully for the treatment of nonunion of long bone fractures in Germany. In the nineties, shock wave therapy was used for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and calcific rotator cuff tendinitis.

Over the last two decades the use of ESWT has grown by leaps and bounds, and this special issue with twenty invited articles will try to inform you of the current concepts in the use of ESWT.

There are five original full-length articles and 15 review articles covering the cellular mechanisms and the clinical uses of ESWT. The first invited article is a prospective study by Gerdesmeyer et al. [1] showing that bone mineral density (BMD) increased six weeks after ESWT, and was statistically significant at twelve weeks. However it is not clear whether this effect on BMD is permanent or regresses after a few months. This study is very exciting as it indicates the possibility of treating osteoporosis with ESWT.

The experimental study by Santos et al. [2] from Brazil showed an increase of sulfated glycosaminoglycan in rat femurs after the application of ESWT. This suggests that shock waves can prolong anabolism of GAGs and also may have systemic effects. This study helps us to understand the multifactorial effects of ESWT on bone healing. Sukubo et al. [3] studied the effect of low dose shock waves on macrophages in vitro and showed their probable role in the prevention of fibrosis.

In this article from Taiwan, Kuo et al. [4] showed that the union rate was 100 percent after the application of ESWT twelve months from initial surgery (8 out of 8 patients), and 42.9 percent when applied after twelve months (6 out of 14 patients). This study albeit small is very encouraging for this difficult condition of atrophic nonunion. It also showed that ESWT could be followed by additional surgeries without any adverse effects. Atrophic nonunion is due to compromised vascularity, and ESWT through its neovascularization effect facilitates bony union.

This original paper on radial shock wave treatment in patients with plantar heel pain by Rompe et al. [5] is significant as it validates the successful use of radial as compared to focused shock waves. It also shows that a simple programme of manual stretching exercises after ESWT produces significantly better results at four months after initial therapy.

The blasting of urinary and biliary calculi is purely mechanical but low energy shock waves have shown a mechanotransduction effect on the biochemistry of the cell. This has helped us to understand the healing powers of ESWT in various tissues. Cheng and Wang [6] acknowledge that the biological mechanism of shock waves in bone is still unknown. In this review they cite many studies on the molecular basis of bone healing, improvement of osteonecrosis and osteochondrogenesis. Shock waves do not induce cracks or micro damage the bone. ESWT may replace surgery for nonunion of long bone fractures without the surgical risks.

The review by d’Agostino et al. [7] traces the history of ESWT to its present status, where the concept of mechanotransduction helps us to understand why acoustic waves can lead to tendon and bone healing. This article and its many references will help us to understand how ESWT is a healing procedure.

ESWT in Achilles tendinopathy is a well-established indication and this review by Gerdesmeyer et al. [8] of the current evidence updates our knowledge of this fairly common condition. The article documents the high evidence of published studies of the efficacy of ESWT in Achilles tendinopathy and concludes that shock wave therapy is the most effective modality of treatment for chronic Achilles tendinopathy.

The review of the treatment of chronic patella tendinopathy with ESWT by Leal et al. [9] reinforces the excellent results of ESWT in the treatment of various tendinopathies in the last fifteen years. The best results are achieved when used in combination with eccentric exercises and standardized physical therapy protocols. The title of this review on lateral condylitis (tennis elbow) says it all. This is an overuse syndrome and is one of the most treated conditions with ESWT. This article by Thiele et al. [10] documents the historical use of shock wave for lateral condylitis since 1996 with mixed results in initial studies. Later studies showed more positive results. Efficacy has been well demonstrated and treatment procedures standardized. Only Level 1-b studies were included in this overview and the authors concluded that repeated applications of ESWT should be performed before resorting to surgery.

The review by Moya et al. [11] on current knowledge of evidence based ESWT for shoulder pathology emphasizes the excellent results for calcific shoulder tendinopathy. This is one of the two main indications for the use of ESWT in musculoskeletal disorders together with plantar fasciitis. However shock wave therapy is being increasingly used for non-calcific shoulder tendinopathies. The review also highlights the rare complication of humeral head necrosis (two reports). It has also been often used for frozen shoulder, bicipital tendinitis and postoperative shoulder stiffness. However these indications are still controversial.

Is ESWT the first choice treatment for fracture non-unions? Schaden et al. [12] believe it to be so after long personal experience and an extensive review of the literature in this article. There are more than twenty publications reporting on the good results of ESWT in fracture non-unions with practically no side effects. A non-union gap of more than 5 mm in long bones is a negative factor for a successful outcome. ESWT should be used after failed internal fixation or with the addition of a plaster cast, orthosis or an external fixator.

Two reviews on the use of ESWT for avascular necrosis of the femoral head by Wang et al. [13] and Russo et al. [14] describes this fairly new therapy for this difficult condition. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, histopathological studies of retrieved femoral heads have shown viable bone and cellular proliferation after ESWT. Studies have shown that ESWT is more effective that the gold standard of core decompression and bone grafting for early avascular necrosis of the femoral head.
By: K Ravenndran, MD Trauma Surgeon
International Journal of Surgery
Volume 24, Part B, December 2015, Pages 113-114

The good results have led surgeons to extrapolate the use of ESWT in adult osteochondritis dissecans. This review by Thiele et al. [15] on osteochondritis of the knee and talus published studies on this relatively new indication. The authors conclude that shock wave should be considered before any surgical intervention in early cases.

We continue on our journey on bone treatment with the use of ESWT in stress fractures by Leal et al. [16]. This comprehensive review of stress fractures in general is worth reading. ESWT is a relatively new treatment modality. There are several case reports and series with encouraging results for the use of ESWT in stress fractures.

Myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia always evokes mixed feelings among doctors and this comprehensive review by Ramon et al. [17] helps us to understand the pathophysiology of this common disorder. ESWT is a novel therapy for these painful conditions and should be done together with a supervised exercise programme. These indications are still under investigation.

We leave the field of musculoskeletal disorders for other fields like the skin and the heart. ESWT is also used for erectile dysfunction but this special issue did not include this indication as it is still under experimental use.

The review on the use of ESWT for diabetic foot ulcers by Wang et al. [18] shows that shock wave, both radial and focused is effective in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. It has also been used in non-diabetic ulcers and skin flaps to improve flap survival. This review also highlights that ESWT is more effective than hyperbaric oxygen therapy for diabetic foot ulcers.

A metaanalysis of the treatment of cellulite with ESWT by Knobloch and Kraemer [19] reviews eleven clinical studies with five randomized controlled trials. Both focused and radial devices were used, and there was improvement of the cellulite severity scale (CSS) in the treated groups after twelve weeks. However the studies used various mixed techniques that have been listed in the metaanalysis. Long term follow up beyond one year was lacking.
Shock wave therapy of the heart is still in its infancy and this review by Holfeld et al. [20] is a comprehensive review of this new and exciting indication. If ESWT can regenerate ischaemic heart muscle, it will be a milestone in cardiac treatment.

In 1997, Haupt [21] wrote ‘In patients in whom conservative treatment has failed, surgery used to be the only choice, but its success rate barely exceeds that of shock wave therapy and surgery can still be done if shock wave therapy fails. Extracorporeal shock waves will have an impact on orthopedics comparable to its effect in urology.’

Almost twenty years after Haupt wrote this, sadly many surgeons, doctors and allied medical personnel are unaware of ESWT or believe it to be akin to alternative medicine.

The FDA approved the use of ESWT for the treatment of plantar fasciitis in 2000 and the treatment of lateral condylitis in 2002. I hope that this special issue will be a valuable tool and a reference to the further study of ESWT in the coming years.


Knee Pain: Meniscus

Knee Pain: Meniscus

Knee pain can affect a large range of age groups, ranging from ‘growing’ pains experienced by young people to ‘arthritic’ pain in older persons, and everything in-between. In this Blog we will examine knee meniscus injuries, what causes them and how to treat these injuries.

What is the Meniscus of the Knee?

The meniscus are C-shaped structures in your knee joint which sit between your femur (or thigh bone) and your tibia (or shin bone). They are made of a type of cartilage called fibrocartilage, which is a little bit different to other form of cartilage in your knee called articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is often more affected with arthritis. Your knee has two menisci, the medial meniscus and lateral meniscus. The medial meniscus is located on the inside while the lateral meniscus is on the outside of your knee.

The menisci have a limited blood supply which rely on movement of the knee to keep it strong and healthy. The best thing you can do to prevent your meniscus from injury, is to keep active and keep the knee moving.

What does the Meniscus do?

The main role of the menisci is to help with absorbing and distributing forces through the knee joint. They work together with knee and hip muscles to act as a shock absorber when the knee is active. The menisci also increases the surface area of the knee joint, so it adds some extra stability to the knee.

How do you injure your meniscus?

The majority of meniscus injuries occur as people age (over 50 years). As you get older the limited blood supply to the meniscus becomes further reduced. As people age they develop wrinkles and grey hair. The aging process also occurs in the knee, the menisci begin to degenerate, lose some of their strength and become more prone to injury.

As the menisci become more susceptible to injury with age, the range and types of movements which can damage it become more prevalent. The majority of meniscus injuries occur when you twist your knee over a planted foot. – Sometimes it can be as simple, as turning to look over your shoulder or stepping off a ladder and putting weight on your foot and twisting your knee. You might notice the knee to slowly swell up.

Meniscus injuries in the younger ager group (under 30) are not as prevalent. Simple twisting movements to the knee are unlikely to cause menisci injury in younger persons. You are more likely to see menisci injuries occur with other knee injuries such as ligament damage caused through sport.

What should I do if I damage my meniscus?

So you have injured your knee and you are thinking, what to do next? Alternatively, you have had a scan on your knee and been diagnosed with a meniscus tear and wanting to know what is the best way to treat it?

A 2002 study involving people who had ‘degenerative’ menisci tears, compared the rehabilitation recovery rates of three groups. The first group had meniscus removal surgery (i.e. arthroscopic meniscectomy), the second experienced joint ‘wash-out’ (lavage) and third underwent ‘placebo’ surgery where the surgeon made skin incisions only. All groups undertook the same rehabilitation program. Amazingly they found no difference in between the 3 groups. All groups had the same levels of pain and function, and all improved at the same rate.

Since the initial 2002 study, further published studies have compared meniscus surgery with placebo surgery and physiotherapy treatment. These studies continue to confirm the same result, that is, there is no differences between all of the groups in terms of rehabilitation other than the surgery group having a higher cost of treatment!

The treatment for meniscus tears in the active, younger population (under 30) is more complex with some individuals needing surgery as soon as possible, while others can manage with physiotherapy and exercise.

What does this all mean?

Degenerative meniscus tears are more common as people age. In some cases people who not have any knee pain may have degenerative menisci and not be in any pain. In other words having a degenerative meniscus correlates poorly pain. The good news is, you might not need to have surgery at all if you are able to undertake a comprehensive physiotherapy rehabilitation program.

Will surgery provide you any benefits? Yes it will in the short term. However, arthroscopic meniscus surgery is associated with a ten-fold increase the risk of knee osteoarthritis.

Although most degenerative meniscus tears don’t need surgery, there are always some cases where surgery is going to be more effective than physiotherapy. Some menisci tears can either ‘stick-up’ into the joint or ‘break-off.’ In cases like these the tear can cause the knee to lock when trying to bend or straighten, and surgery is recommended to remove the tear.

What will my physiotherapist work on during my rehabilitation?

The first thing your physiotherapist will undertake is a full assessment of not only your knee, but your legs and even your back to see if you pain is coming from your meniscus or from somewhere else.

If you have hurt your meniscus recently your physiotherapist will start treatment aiming to reduce the swelling and begin to return it to its full range of movement.
If you have full range of movement and no swelling in your knee joint your physiotherapist will begin an exercise program focused on strengthening the muscles around your knee, and from around your hip. Weak quadriceps muscle has been found to place a greater load on your knee joint and your meniscus. Strengthening these muscle groups can reduce the pressure on the meniscus during movement. Weakness in your bottom (gluteal) muscles can also affect your knee function. Weakness in the gluteal muscles is known to place more load through the inside of the knee, which is where the majority of medial injuries occur. Strengthening the quadriceps and gluteal muscles will contribute to reducing the pressure on the knee.

To Summarize:

Degenerative meniscus tears areas common as wrinkles and grey hair as you grow older. Although surgery is sometimes required for some knee injuries it often is not the only or best option in most cases. For most knee injuries involving the menisci the best anti-aging medicine is physical activity and exercise.