Common Injuries

Learn about common injuries that the various services at the Glen Sather Clinic can help with, such as:

  • Concussions
  • Bulging discs
  • Rotator cuff injuries

Spinal Disc Herniation or Protrusion

Disc herniation or protrusion is commonly known as a "bulging disc". The injury occurs when the fluid in the disc pushes or leaks out of the disc and places pressure on a nearby nerve. Patients will commonly complain of back and leg pain that becomes worse when they cough or sneeze. The affected leg can also ache, feel numb, tingle or feel like it has fallen asleep. Prolonged sitting, leaning forward or slouching typically make the symptoms feel worse.

If the pain is severe or uncontrollable, the patient should consult with his or her doctor to obtain proper pain medications to help control the pain.

Services at the Glen Sather Clinic that can help

Physiotherapy can help alleviate the symptoms of disc protrusion and should be started immediately to help control the pain.

Foot and Ankle

Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is an injury to the Achilles tendon and is typically felt at or slightly above the heel. It is worse in the morning when trying to walk on the foot. The pain is also worse when trying to push off with the toes while walking or running.

A common treatment for this problem is physiotherapy, which focuses on an eccentric strengthening program for the Achilles tendon. These exercises can be painful, but this does not necessarily mean further damage is occurring. Consult with a physiotherapist to ensure this specific program is correct for you.

Lateral Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are common injuries that occur in most sports. Typically, a lateral ankle sprain can occur when an athlete twists the ankle inwards (inversion) or lands on someone's foot which causes the foot to turn inwards. Pain is usually felt on the lateral or outside part of the ankle and can be accompanied by bruising and swelling.

If the injury is severe enough, a pop can be heard at the time of the injury. Swelling usually occurs quickly and it is painful to weight bear. If there are any signs of deformity, an X-ray should be taken to rule out a fracture.

Pursuing physiotherapy is the best course of action to help reduce the swelling and pain. Physiotherapy will also help the athlete return to sports sooner.

Services at the Glen Sather Clinic that can help

Head and Neck

Head and neck injuries include whiplash and concussions.


A concussion is one of the most common types of traumatic brain injuries that may cause unconsciousness. Although concussions have been known to temporarily alter the way a brain functions, when handled correctly, they usually do not cause permanent brain injury. Most individuals (80 to 90 per cent) recover fully, but it usually takes up to 45 days for neurophysiological function to return to normal.

A concussion can occur from a direct blow to the head, face or neck. It can also occur in conjunction with whiplash injuries.

An individual can suspect a concussion if they experience any of the following symptoms after impact:

  • Headache
  • Unsteadiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and/or loud noises
  • Slow reaction time
  • Impaired brain function (e.g., confusion, amnesia, thinking, difficulty remembering, nausea, seizures and/or loss of consciousness)
  • Abnormal behaviour (e.g., change in personality and/or irritability)

*Note: It may take time for symptoms to become obvious and concussions are cumulative (they occur more easily with each successive concussion). The injured individual should consult with a physician immediately if any of the above symptoms are experienced.

If a person is suspected of having a concussion, he or she should:

  1. Stop the activity
  2. Be continually monitored (every five to 10 minutes) should symptoms worsen
  3. Not be left alone
  4. Be medically assessed
  5. Not be allowed to return to play unless cleared by a medical professional

Services at the Glen Sather Clinic that can help

If an individual is experiencing a serious concussion (symptoms including unconsciousness or amnesia), a referral to a sport and exercise medicine physician can be made.

Physiotherapy can also help with lingering neck pain or stiffness.

Learn more on the Complex Concussion Clinic »


Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

The ACL is commonly injured while playing sports or doing an activity that requires a large amount of pivoting, change of direction, jumping or sudden deceleration. Typically, the knee gives out or collapses when the athlete tries to plant and pivot. Pain, an audible pop and immediate swelling often occurs right after the injury. Most patients are unable to finish their activity after the injury.

Physiotherapy should be sought immediately to control the pain/swelling and restore strength back in the knee. An ACL tear can be diagnosed without the need for an MRI.

If the knee continues to be unstable or give way despite proper rehabilitation, surgery may be indicated to reconstruct the ACL.

Patella Instability and Dislocation

Patellar dislocations occur when the patella (kneecap) slides out of the groove of the thigh bone (femur). Typically, the patella will dislocate laterally (to the outside aspect of the knee) and can be visibly seen sitting outside the groove. Dislocations can occur when landing from a jump, changing direction while running, or as a result of a traumatic injury where the knee has been hit, forcing the patella to dislocate. An audible pop, immediate swelling and pain usually occurs right after the injury.

If the patella appears out of place, one should not try to push it back into place. Medical attention should be sought immediately.

Physiotherapy can help control pain, reduce swelling and maintain the strength in the knee. Bracing may help to assist the patient getting back to sport and prevent a re-dislocation.

If the patella is very unstable, it may continue to dislocate or sublux. If this is the case, a consultation for a knee surgery may be advised.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a common knee affliction. Usually, there is a gradual onset of pain under the kneecap (patella) that is felt behind or on the inside aspect of the kneecap during activity. Patients also complain of knee stiffness during periods of inactivity such as watching a movie or sitting for a long time. This condition may also develop slowly after a history of traumatic injury or surgery. Clicking or grinding under the kneecap is often associated with this condition.

Pursuing physiotherapy is the best course of action for patellofemoral pain syndrome. The exercise program is important because it addresses both the hip and knee muscles, which play a significant role in the syndrome.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury

The PCL is typically injured from a direct blow (e.g., a football or rugby tackle) or a fall to the front of the knee while it is flexed or bent. PCL injuries can occur with other ligament tears in the knee, but this usually occurs with high-energy trauma. Immediate swelling, pain and an audible pop or crack often can be heard when the injury occurs.

Isolated PCL injuries often do not limit a patient after the injury has been rehabilitated; therefore, physiotherapy should be initiated immediately. If the knee continues to feel unstable or if other ligaments were damaged as well, surgery may be indicated.

Services at the Glen Sather Clinic that can help


Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help provide stability to the shoulder. Injuries to the rotator cuff commonly occur when one is doing repetitive overhead motions in sports or at work. The risk of a rotator-cuff injury also increases as one ages. Typically, there is a gradual onset of shoulder pain after doing some strenuous activity (e.g., shovelling or painting). The aching pain is worse at night, especially when trying to sleep on the affected shoulder. Patients can expect shoulder pain to persist for several months after the injury.

Most rotator-cuff injuries can heal without surgery. By beginning physiotherapy early, the patient can decrease muscle wasting, control pain, and help improve his or her strength around the shoulder and shoulder blade (scapula).

If there is a large tear to the rotator cuff muscles and/or tendon, surgery may need to be considered.

Shoulder Dislocation (Anterior)

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the arm bone (humerus) separates from the socket. The shoulder will look visibly out of place and the patient will complain that his or her shoulder feels like it is sitting in his or her arm pit. The patient will also not want to move his or her arm. Numbness can occur at the same time and make the arm feel "dead" (dead-arm syndrome). If the shoulder is not put back into place (reduced), further damage to the nerves around the shoulder can occur.

The patient should seek medical attention immediately. One should never try to reduce or get the shoulder back in its socket without medical help.

Starting physiotherapy right after the shoulder is reduced can restore range of motion, improve strength, and control pain. Repeated shoulder dislocations have a cumulative effect; therefore, surgical intervention may be indicated in cases of repeated dislocations.

Services at the Glen Sather Clinic that can help