Posted by May on June 27, 2016

Knee Pain & Osteoarthritis


Question: What is osteoarthritis?

Answer: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and occurs especially in the knee joint. OA affects nearly 6% of all adults, and women are more likely to get it than man. A healthy knee joint is protected by cartilage, so that the bone surfaces can move together painlessly and with low friction to each other. But when you have OA in the knees, cartilage decreases in thickness and quality, and it becomes thinner and softer, and cracks may occur and cartilage eventually crumbles off. With time, cartilage will disappear, and without the help of cartilage, the bone surfaces will rub together which stimulates bone growth, leading to bone spurs in your knee. Pain and stiffness and difficulty in functional day to day activity is the result.

Question: Who gets knee osteoarthritis?

Answer: OA can happen to anyone! But some people are more at risk than others.

Risk Factors are:

  • female>male
  • 40 years old +
  • obesity
  • joint hypermobility or instability
  • sport stress with high impact loading
  • repetitive knee bending or heavy weight lifting
  • injury to the knee joint
  • family history

Question: Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis

Answer: patients complain of localized joint pain that worsens with activity, and relieved with rest. Knee may lock or give way. Stiffness in the knee in the morning (30 minutes), and pain worse at the end of the day compared to the beginning.

Question: What does knee osteoarthritis look like on X-rays?

Answer: Knee joint will have joint space narrowing (due to lack of cartilage), osteophyte (bone spur) formation (due to bone rubbing directly on bone).



Question: What are some prevention tips?


  • Weight loss if overweight or maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Exercise regularly (30 minutes 5 times a day) with low impact activity like swimming and bicycling which will protect your knees. Strengthening your quadriceps muscles with knee extension machine or squats.
  • Avoiding injuring your knee by:
  • exercise on softest surface available, avoid running on asphalt and concrete
  • wear properly fitting shoes that provide shock absorption and stability
  • do warm up and cool down after exercise
  • keep feet as flat as possible during stretches to avoid twisting knees
  • avoid bending knees past 90 degree when doing half knee bends

Question: Can physical therapy help?

Answer: Absolutely! As you know, once you have knee OA and your cartilage is breaking down, your body cannot generate new cartilage. By rehabilitating your knee with a physiotherapist, we can help you slow down further knee joint damage, reduce pain, and improve your quality of life.

We can provide you with:

  • individualized exercise program so you can improve your strength around your knee, thereby reducing the burden on your knees and reducing pain.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: A technique in which a weak electric current is administered through electrodes placed on the skin, TENS is believed to stop messages from pain receptors from reaching the brain.
  • Hands on techniques that will increase your joint flexibility and reduce stiffness and pain
  • Pre-rehabilitation before your knee replacement surgery so you can enter your surgery as strong as possible, leading to the best outcomes after surgery

Question: Can Acupuncture help?

Answer: Many of my patients have found pain relief and improved functional ability after a few sessions of acupuncture. Acupuncture is a holistic treatment approach that has been used for more than 3,000 years. It involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body.




Question: Is knee replacement surgery right for me?

Answer: If you have been trying all the conservative treatments (physiotherapy, acupuncture, injections, anti-inflammatory medications) for 6 months and is still experiencing severe pain in the knee that limits your everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, getting in or out of chair, then it may be the best option for you to consider knee replacement surgery. 90% of people who receive the surgery have improved function and decreased pain. However, it is important to enter the surgery as strong as possible to increase your chances of success, and it is also essential that you commit yourself to a strict rehabilitation process after surgery. Expected post surgery rehabilitation is 3-6 months. Some people might need more time to heal than others.

If you are experiencing similar knee problems, and want to get it assess by a physiotherapist, book an assessment today!

Written by: 

Amy Chen

Registered Physiotherapist


Posted by May on April 21, 2016

Lower Back Pain

Most people will experience lower back pain at some point in their life. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons for people to seek out a physiotherapist. Many people do not understand that with appropriate back care strategies and some back exercises, you can decrease the chance of injuring your back and prevent permanent conditions like spinal stenosis.

While back pain is common, every person is different and their cause of their back pain may differ as well. Our physiotherapist will assess your back thoroughly and determine if you have nerve compression, muscle weakness, inflexibility, stiff or unstable joints that may contribute to your back pain. In addition, our physiotherapist will also create a long term self-management plan for you, so your back pain does not re-occur.


Back muscle strain
This can be caused by weak back muscles, in combination with lifting excessive loads with poor posture. Physiotherapy can strengthen your back muscles, and teach you the correct way to protect your back.

Ligament sprains
At each spinal level, there are ligaments that control the amount of movement at each joint. Common causes resulting in ligament sprains are poor lifting posture, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents. Physiotherapy can help speed up the healing process so you can return back to your life as soon as possible.

Bulging discs
Your spine is made up of bones called vertebra, and between each vertebra is a spinal disc. These discs will help your body to absorb the shock of movement and create space for your spinal nerves to exit the spinal canal and travel to your limbs.
When a spinal disc bulges, it can compress the nerve at that spinal level. This nerve pinch can lead to back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, and pain into your legs.
Physiotherapy can teach you exercises to decrease the pain in your pain and can use acupuncture to speed up the healing for bulged discs.

Poor posture
Having a poor posture when you are sitting, standing, or lifting at work can place a lot of stress on your spine. With time, the stress on your spine accumulates, leading to muscle fatigue, ligament laxity, disc bulge, and other back symptoms.


Depending on your specific diagnosis, our physiotherapist will treat with the following framework in mind.

Phase I – Manage the pain and protect your back
Our first goal is to decrease your back pain. Your physiotherapist will use a variety of treatment techniques to decrease your back pain, such as acupuncture, ice, soft tissue massage.

Phase II – Restoring Normal Range of Motion and Strength
Once your back pain settles down, your physiotherapist will start you on a core stability program to help strengthen and activate the important muscles that stabilizes your lower back and pelvis. This individualized exercise program will allow you to build a strong back and to prevent future injuries.

Phase III – Achieving Your Full Function
Whether it is sports, work, or daily living, everyone has different goals for their back. Our physiotherapist will create exercise programs tailored to your functional goals so you can live your life to the fullest.

Phase IV – Prevention
Most people who experienced back pain will likely experience it again, unless they keep up their core strengthening exercise program. Your physiotherapist will provide you with a maintenance program for your back so you can keep your muscles strong and prevent another episode from happening.

Posted by May on June 23, 2012

Testimonial: Women’s Health Issue (Bladder Pain)

          Like many women, I have been experiencing bladder pain.  My family doctor diagnosed it as interstitial cystitis, which is a chronic condition characterized by an inflammation of the bladder. It came on strongly after a bladder infection had been treated, although I had been having urgency and bladder pain for years.  A history of endometriosis and three pelvic surgeries for this condition following the birth of my three children certainly didn’t help the matter.
           When I went to see Dr. May, I was quite desperate for some relief.  I had a terrible feeling of pressure and pain in my bladder. The pain also radiated through to my back. The pain was so bad that I ended up at the emergency department of my local hospital. It turned out that I had a flare up of a condition that can really turn your life upside down. This condition is rarely talked about because people just don’t go around talking about their bladder pain.  Certain foods and beverages can be bladder irritants.  I noticed some relief when I stopped consuming the following: tea, coffee, acidic foods such as oranges and tomatoes, and spicy foods.
          Dr. May suggested a series of acupuncture treatments to break down some of the scar tissue from my prior surgeries.  After the first treatment, I felt quite tired.  During subsequent sessions,  I just felt relaxed during and after the acupuncture.  Next week will by my 15th and final treatment with Dr. May.  I have definitely noticed a huge improvement in my bladder pain and I am very happy with the sessions with Dr. May.  She is a caring and gentle person who demonstrates a genuine interest in her clients.  I would not hesitate to recommend Dr. May to anyone seeking pain relief.

 Written by: Catherine Guy

Posted by May on June 6, 2012

Why Acupuncture is a Great Choice for Curing Anxiety

Every year, new studies show that anxiety among otherwise healthy men and women is on the rise. While a small amount of anxiety every once in a while is normal, persistent anxiety is a serious problem – it affects behaviors, it creates stress, and it hurts your overall quality of life.

Some of the solutions to anxiety are simple. Exercise, for example, is an important first step. More and more people are working in careers that involve little physical activity, and that inactivity creates misplaced energy that can turn into stress and anxiety.

But if basic lifestyle changes don’t work, and you find that your anxiety continues to impact your life, the solutions become more complicated. Pharmaceutical medications should generally be avoided, because in addition to their addictive properties and dangerous side effects, they also only numb the issue temporarily. Once you stop taking the medications the anxiety comes back; potentially stronger than ever. In addition, while several therapies exist, these solutions are generally prohibitively expensive for the modern family. It’s for these reasons that acupuncture is such a good option as an anxiety treatment.

Reasons to Consider Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an affordable, safe, non-addictive and effective way to treat anxiety. It has none of the side effects of modern medications, and has been used for centuries as a way of curing mental health issues and other health symptoms.
What makes acupuncture so effective, however, is the following:

·Anxiety Points
First and foremost, there are several points that an acupuncturist can target that are designed to counter your anxiety. Acupuncturists place needles in the GV20, He5, and other points in order to balance your chi and help your body cope with anxiety. Each of these points has been tested by generations of practitioners for the past thousands of years, and is known to have a profound effect on the way you experience anxiety.

·Tangential Points
Anxiety is not usually caused by any one issue, which is why when you really want to reduce anxiety you need to do more than simply place needles at anxiety reduction points. You also need to place needles in areas that may relate to stress, health, and other issues that could, in theory, contribute to further anxiety in the future.

·Accompanying Lifestyle Changes
Acupuncture is also not considered a standalone treatment. Those that use it combine the effective techniques with anxiety reduction herbs, a healthier diet and lifestyle, and more. Because anxiety can be caused by so many different aspects of a person’s life, and because it’s so important to approach anxiety reduction from a more holistic manner, this type of treatment is underrated as a potential option for anxiety sufferers.

Choosing Acupuncture as an Anxiety Option
Those that suffer from anxiety need to depend on natural treatments if possible, because modern medicine is simply too addictive with too many side effects to make it worthwhile. Since anxiety represents such an important factor in a person’s short and long term happiness, it’s also important that you select an option that is effective right away, and lasts long enough to help create real changes in your quality of life. Acupuncture from a reputable acupuncturist has the potential to do just that, and should be considered by those looking for natural treatment options.

Posted by May on January 2, 2012

How Acupuncture is Effective for Sciatica

Sciatica occurs when something pushes on the sciatic nerve.  This can be a muscle spasm, the spinal discs, and sometimes even the spine itself.   Most often this pain is due to muscle spasms or a slipped disc, but it can also be a sign of serious illness and it is important to go to you doctor for a diagnosis. Technically, sciatica is not a disease, but a group of symptoms that affect the region of the sciatic nerve.  Radiating pain is one of the more common and intense symptoms, there can also be numbness and tingling starting in the lower back radiating down the leg. Furthermore, sciatic nerve compression can be caused by several different types of spinal disorders such as: 1) a herniated disc 2) lumbar spinal stenosis 3) spondylolisthesis 4) trauma 5) piriformis syndrome 6) spinal tumors.

Treating sciatica with acupuncture is helpful because it can really relieve the pain and inflammation within the sciatic nerve. Meiji University of Oriental Medicine did research on the effectiveness of acupuncture on sciatica treatment; they found that acupuncture not only influence humans’ pain inhibitory system, it participates in causing a transient change in sciatic nerve blood blow, including circulation to the cauda equine and nerve root. To further your understanding of how acupuncture relieves sciatic nerve pain: there are important acupuncture points within our back that can effectively trigger the sciatic nerve, thereby decreasing inflammation, numbness and pain.

My approach with acupuncture to treat sciatica is based on my extensive knowledge in Chinese medicine.  My unique acupuncture point selection is designed to improve blood circulation and relax paraspinal muscles, allowing more fluid and nutrients to nourish the disc thereby increase the elasticity of the discs. Such increase in the elasticity of the discs through acupuncture can help reduce the disc protrusion and thus reduce and eliminate the lower back pain. Most of the patients experience substantial sciatica relief after their first treatment!