Tomiko Saldia, MS, PT, RYT, Cert. MDT
It is rare that I meet anyone that can truly say they have no pain in their body. After many thousands of lessons that I’ve given to patients and clients on how to self-treat their painful body parts, I realize that ultimately the best way to do this is by educating the person on how to stop the cycle of pain when and where it occurs. This means that in order for the person to be successful at abolishing pain, and particularly chronic pain, they must learn to become mindful of what they are feeling in their body throughout the day and night.
The vast majority of people in the world have pain as a result of some kind of mechanical problem that may be causing radiating and in some cases debilitating symptoms. There are three levels of classifying mechanical pain. You can have pain as the result of poor posture called Postural Syndrome. You can have pain as a result of something displaced inside a joint or a spinal disc causing an obstruction of range of motion called a Derangement. And lastly, you can have pain as a result of chronically shortened tissues in the joint tissues as well as the periarticular tissues called a Dysfunction. Each of these conditions can be self-treated by implementing a proactive treatment called the McKenzie Method.
The quickest way to determine if your pain stems from a mechanical source is to visit a practitioner who has been trained in mechanical diagnosis and treatment (MDT). This method is predominantly used by physical therapists, however, other types of licensed healthcare providers can also be trained. The McKenzie Method has become the most effective treatments available for abolishing neck and low back pain of mechanical origin.
How Does One Get Mechanical Pain?
Mechanical pain can be caused by a single event, like a sports injury, a slip’n fall, or even be a post-surgical side effect. However, it can also be due to some kind of repetitive and chronic mechanical stressor such as sitting at your computer with poor posture. If you’ have ever sat at a desk, sat in a car, cleaned your house, done yard work, or cared for children then even you could have or can get pain that could be classified as Postural Syndrome, Derangement, or Dysfunction.
Chemical Pain Vs. Mechanical Pain
Two good reasons for pain can be either mechanical or chemical. Sometimes these occur simultaneously. Knowing how to treat both kinds can be one of the biggest keys to permanently abolishing your symptoms. Mechanical pain can be relieved with specific spinal or peripheral joint movement(s). Chemical pain can only be only be abolished by chemical means to reduce inflammation. The best treatment for inflammation is ice or some kind of anti-inflammatory medication (prescription or over the counter). Vicodin will not have a lasting effect on the sensation of chemical pain since it is an opiate narcotic that does not have an effect on inflammation. If you are unsure what to take, the safest route would be to ask your doctor or pharmacist what would be the most effective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory to treat your condition.
There will be times when chemical pain and mechanical pain are occurring at the same time. There are self-help books that you can buy to begin learning how to self-treat your pain. The two most popular books are Treat You Own Neck and Treat Your Own Back written by Robin McKenzie. If you have already read these books and are still unsure of what is causing the pain, or if you have begun the exercises and have only gotten partial relief, then this is a good sign that it’s time to start working with a practitioner who can diagnose your condition. Mechanical pain can often be rapidly reduced or abolished with the right kind of self-generated movement. Chemical pain will also rapidly reduce (within 24-48 hours) by decreasing the inflammation. When both are occurring simultaneously then they both need to be treated at the same time. Not treating both effectively could result in poor reduction of symptoms. An experienced practitioner in MDT will be able to tell you how to treat either condition separately or combined so that you get the most optimal results of pain relief.
What Can I Expect At My First MDT Appointment?
It is very common for your practitioner to determine what is called a “provisional diagnosis” of your condition on the first visit. Additional appointments will be needed to confirm the provisional diagnosis. It may take up to 5 visits to determine if a patient is an appropriate candidate for MDT. Many acute mechanical pain conditions can be treated and resolved in 10 visits. However, with chronic pain, there may be many levels and layers of your conditions so it will be important for you to find a therapist who is not bound by time constraints to work with you until the completion of your highest potential for healing.
Don’t Let Pain Rule Your Life.
The best advice that I can give to those who have been suffering for years on end in pain is not to give up the hope of feeling better. After reading this article you may already be much closer to relief than you’ve ever been before. There may be an MDT practitioner in your area. If there’s not, it may be worth a drive to visit one for even just one appointment. A little bit of simple guidance in the right direction often goes a long way.
Choose to be proactive in getting relief from pain. Gain as much knowledge as you can about your condition and just decide that you have the capability to heal from your condition. A few times I have been wary of patients potential for getting better and nearly each of those times the patient surpassed my initial judgment. Research has shown that patients who are actively involved in self-treating their pain have much greater success at reducing and abolishing painful symptoms. So any way you look at the picture of your life from the vantage point of this moment, the odds are in your favor for finding relief!