My scan/image report sounds bad. Does damage = pain?

My scan/image report sounds bad. Does damage = pain?

Damage does not equal pain, this is why scans can be misleading!

Scans can be very useful for diagnostics and to point us in the right direction, but they can also cause worry and unhelpful beliefs that we should be in pain because of damage seen on scans.

What your body part looks like while you are lying in a tube does not correlate well with how someone feels and moves. A lot of people have problems found on x-rays and other scans but have no pain or symptoms at all!!
Below are some great examples of why we don’t need to be getting too worked up about what our scan results are showing, and how with the right treatment and mindset, you can beat your pain!

Intermittent Pain

In most cases, people will describe their pain as having varying intensities, and at times it is not there at all, which is great! This means there are times when your nervous system is happier than the times you are feeling the pain – These “happy” periods can be extended.
In terms of a scan, even when we are in these happy, pain free zones, an MRI or X-Ray will still look the same as when you are in pain, so you can live comfortably and pain free with your scan still looking like it does!


Degeneration is a term used to describe “wear and tear” that our body and its joints naturally experience through living life! Degeneration begins to appear even in our late 20’s (pain free individuals included!).
If you have one sore knee and one pain free, studies have shown that the “good” knee will show just as much degeneration, sometimes more, than the other knee, as they are both the same age and likely to have done similar amounts of work, so why would only one knee be sore if degeneration is the source of pain??


It has been shown that up to 87% of people in their 20’s had disc herniation’s/ protrusions, highlighting that this sort of movement or change to the disc is considered quite normal! Many people live with these things every day and have never had a painful back.  So a disc bulge seen on CT scan or MRI is not a recipe for long term back pain.

 Pinched Nerves

Nerves are very strong, resilient structures, but can be very sensitive when aggravated. They are designed to be stretched, squashed and moved in all directions, so a “pinched nerve” seen on MRI/CT may not be the main source of pain.  We sit on our sciatic nerve all day, and stretch nerves every time we bend and twist, and the majority of the time – no problem.
Whatever our spine looks like on an MRI, chances are it looked like that the day before you had pain as well, as these changes take years to develop, as long as there was not a major trauma or incident.

What all of this tells us is that what we see on a scan may not be the actual cause of your pain.

At Willunga Physio we look at your whole body the ‘whole picture’ to locate the source of your problem.  We check every muscle, joint, action and nerve that may be contributing and fix the cause of the problem.

4 easy tips to ease neck/back pain

4 easy tips to ease neck/back pain

  1. Take a “Smoko”!

THAT got your attention :).  Now, when your work colleagues get up and go outside for a ‘smoke break’, get up and go with them. Be sure to stand ‘up wind’, but a short break, regularly from our seated work posture is the best way to give your neck and back muscles a break.

Walking and rolling your shoulders for a minute gets you out of that static seated posture and gives your muscles a chance to re-charge. Often we work better after a short break anyway!

  1. Buy a good chair!

An easy way to take some tension out of your shoulders is to ensure your office chair is set up correctly. You will need a gas/hydraulic up/down chair to do it. Spend the $$, they are gold.

  1. Adjust your chair

Using the lever that lifts you up/down ensure your seat is high enough that you can drop your hands and shoulders down to the keyboard.

A low seat and the subsequent shoulder shrugging required to get your hands up on the keyboard is an easy thing to change.  Your shoulders will love you.  And if your feet then do not reach the ground you have just found the perfect spot to keep the Yellow pages.

 That other lever on the gas, up/down chairs adjusts the back rest angle, but also and more importantly the angle of the part you are actually sitting on.  Tipping this forward (even as little as 3-4 degrees) throws your weight forward onto your feet, so you sit on your ‘bum bones’ not your tail bone.

N.B. It can take a day or two to adjust but is worth persisting. The lumbar support in new cars also does this, and if all else fails a Lumbar Roll (from your friendly physio) strapped to your seat will help sit you up.


 4. Exercise

Our bodies need movement and different positions but winter is really conducive to sitting on the couch, drinking Milo. A 5 minute walk daily, can really help prevent back pain. 10 minutes a day is better and 25 minutes, Tremendous!  But 5 minutes will do….remember follow those smokers out or walk to the bakery, just get moving! Now would also be a good time to restart the exercises your physio gave you.

What is craniosacral therapy?

What is craniosacral therapy?

As a physiotherapist who uses craniosacral therapy (CST) techniques in my day-day practice I get asked this question a lot!

In a nutshell these techniques generally use light touch in order to release tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.

Here is some information about the techniques I have trained in which is via the Upledger Institute.

CST assists in the flow of the fluid in which the brain and spinal cord sit (cerebrospinal fluid). It is this cerebrospinal fluid that helps nourish the central nervous system and removes its waste products: in doing so this optimizes nervous function.

What conditions does CST address?

CST can assist with a wide variety of conditions due to its holistic approach of optimizing the body’s function. Some common ones are:

What conditions does CST address?

CST can assist with a wide variety of conditions due to its holistic approach of optimizing the body’s function. Some common ones are:

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Stress and tension related disorders
  • Motor-co-ordination impairments
  • Infant and childhood disorders (eg colic, poor suck reflex)
  • Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • TMJ syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Autism
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Orthopedic problems
  • And many other conditions….

Who can benefit from CST?

As it is so gentle and uses the tissues as the main guide to the treatment, CST can be effective for people of all ages – from brand new born babies in the first hours of birth, to the elderly and anyone in between. It is particularly useful for people who tend to have adverse reactions to firmer methods of treatments.

What can I expect from a CST session?

Sessions generally start with a quick whole body “scan” to identify areas of restrictions.

Although gentle, the techniques may evoke pain or other uncomfortable feelings. This is all part of the tissue release process but should never feel “wrong” at the time. If so, you should inform the practitioner. The therapist may ask questions and begin to dialogue if the tissues require extra assistance to obtain a release. This is what we call somato-emotional release. Some techniques involve mouthwork, where the therapist puts on a glove and treats the cranial bones via the roof of the mouth.

Ideally a CST session would last 1 hour, however half hour follow up appointments are available – you may just need an extra session or two if you opt for the shorter appointment times.

CST sessions usually require some time in between sessions to allow the body to integrate the changes, generally 1-2 weeks. The number of sessions needed vary greatly but improvements can usually be seen after the first session already. Sometimes after treatments you can feel a bit light-headed, and generally a bit “wobbly”. If you are at all concerned please contact the clinic for advice.

In order to make more enquiries or to book an appointment with myself for CST please contact us at Willunga Physiotherapy, stating you are interested in craniosacral therapy.

Written by Miriam Bourne  Physiotherapist.

How to use your Posture Pole

How to use your Posture Pole

Posture Poles are the best invention in 20 years!! And it is an Australian invention 🙂

My first recommendation for those who have a posture pole is to start by lying on it for……….3 minutes max.

It can be a big change for those who might sit round shouldered all day, or holding their heads forward driving, looking at computers etc. It helps relieve those neck, shoulder and back pain.

  1. Start by lying on your back, head on the soft spot, chin tucked down, and knees bent. Let your arms hang comfortably to your sides, arms at 90 degrees to your body, palms up. We call this ” the SPLAT”…….just breathe and let gravity do the work. Simple.    Remember to check now and again that your chin is down, which helps make the back of your neck long.   Breathe here for a minute.
  1. Next, slide your hands in closer to your sides, roll your palms down flat. Keeping your chin tucked, slide your hands towards your feet, making your neck as long as possible. This is harder work but can really help to get your shoulders down. Hold it for a minute, keep breathing gently.
  1. Finish by returning to the SPLAT and relax there for another minute. As you find the posture pole more comfortable you can try holding each position for longer, but 10 minutes is a general max.

Posture poles are available through Willunga Physiotherapy.

In this video our Physio Tom Anthoney shows you how to get the most out of your posture pole.