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Surgery isn’t always your only option

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I have been fortunate enough to work with clients & athletes of all calibers. From kids, elderly, athletes, over weight, under weight, gen pop, weekend warriors, die hard sports fanatics through to military veterans. This has meant that I have had to educate myself & learn appropriate methods to accommodate for all problems I am faced with, providing a solution & helping them along their journey to moving correctly & becoming pain free. This is what I love about the medical profession, the endless supply of resources available to help people.


I am also very fortunate to work closely with many specialty allied health professionals, doctors & surgeons, all of which aid in the outcomes of my patients tremendously, & for some, would not of achieved the desired results without them.


My priority for patient care is achieving a pain free & functional life, & I would bet (& hope) that this goes for most medical professionals. While occasionally, orthopaedic operations are unavoidable, & sometimes necessary, occasionally, they are not always your ONLY option.


I want to provide a few examples of clients of mine that reached out to me initially after being told they either needed surgery, or required further surgery to address their concerns, & the only option to end their pain.


Early 40’s mum of two, moderately active, wanting to lead a more active life that she was previously used to, told she needed surgery on her knee to address some arthritic changes, general wear & tear (but no diagnosis of the exact condition or why the operation was essential). Pain on any squat movements, guarding patterns, & reduced ability to move with her kids. What we did, correct her squat pattern, address her ankle & hip mobility, got her STRONG, reduced pain & inflammation with laser treatments. Now, stronger than ever, pain free, enjoying life with her family without the fear of further injury. Progressing weekly. No surgery needed.


26 year old plumber, neck pain for over 4 years, very active in weight lifting & physical training. Pain was affecting training, but more importantly, hindering his ability to work at full capacity, causing mental & financial burden on himself, wife & 1 year old baby. Diagnosis, C2/3 disc bulging in mild right foraminal stenosis. C3/4 disc dehydration & disc bulging, Mild bilateral foraminal stenosis & mild canal stenosis, central posterior annular fissure. With further destructive changes to C4/5 & C5/6, C6/7 & C7/T1 within normal limits. What we did, complete postural analysis to address C spine & T spine mobility/strength, corrective exercises for shoulders addressing poor scapulofumeral rhythm, address anterior tightness, modified training techniques, reduced pain & inflammation with laser treatment, addressed restrictions with manual therapy & movement. Now, stronger than ever, pain free training, pain free working, no more headaches, off prescription pharmaceuticals (heavily prescribed for years by local GP that didn’t refer to specialist to address underlying cause of pain, lazy band aid effect! My PET hate!!!). Progressing weekly. No surgery needed.


Late 20’s military veteran, medically discharged from The Australian Defence Force due to diagnosed chronic compartment syndrome that started from over exertion & excessive exercise. One year later, underwent bilateral fasciotomy, no improvements. One year later, medically discharged & told “no more treatment could be done to improve injuries or quality of life & chronic pain was something I had to deal with from then on”. Later diagnosed with bilateral popliteal artery entrapment, compartment pressure still elevated. Popliteal artery surgery on one leg, one year later the second leg. One year on, post surgery testing showed signs of both arteries still entrapped after physical exertion. Was suggested to undergo another TWO surgeries. What we did, high power laser sessions x2/week for 4 weeks. Exercise modifications, gradual increase in leg training. Now, back at jiu jitsu, back doing morning walks with his daughter, gradually increasing leg training loads pain free (which had been advised never to do again), daily pain has reduced from a 8/10, to a 3/10 on average. Progressing weekly. No plans for surgery.


Early 30’s NRL player, arthritic changes in both knees, pain every single day, including daily living, worse during training & games. Needed a full day rest after games due to swelling in the knees. Was told needed bilateral knee arthroscopies & ‘cleaning’ out of the knees. What we did, orthotics for acquired adult flat foot & bilateral tibialis posterior dysfunction (that had never been addressed by team physicians), improved hip mobility & glute strength, high power laser treatments on the knees three times a week for 3 weeks. No daily pain, no pain post training, slight pain on heavy leg weight training. 4 weeks, 75% improvement. Progressing weekly. No surgery needed.


All of these clients above were told they either needed surgery, or that surgery was their only option to ridding them of their pain. This is quite concerning to me as this is only a handful of people that questioned these opinions & searched for alternate methods of treatment prior to going under the knife, so how many people are having surgeries that MAY be unnecessary to achieve the results they desire? Why are we not investigating alternate forms of medicine, treatment & rehabilitation of pain prior to opening them up? When from experience (myself included that has undergone 2 unsuccessful wrist ganglion operations) the rehabilitation process can be long & sometimes reduce the function of the affected area never to be the same there after, which I have also seen a lot of!


 The human body is far more resilient than we think, it has to withstand a lot of external forces every day, getting stronger, more functional & utilizing recovery methods we have available for us SHOULD be the gold standard of treatment prior to surgical intervention, in my opinion. Are there exceptions, sure, are there cases I would refer for surgery, of course, but are they always necessary for chronic pain that a few practitioners haven’t been able to resolve, no they are not.

Surgery isn’t always your only option.