Research shows that a surprising 81% of the time, we experience pain in an arm or a leg (like shin splints, tennis elbow, rotator cuff syndrome or plantar fasciitis), when the spine is in fact the origin. This occurs even without experiencing any spinal symptoms at all! We should therefore always suspect the spine unless we have a clear indication of tissue damage (bruising or disfigurement) to the symptomatic area.
While the above can be alarming, it shouldn’t be. It means that you have a real chance of getting relief from longstanding or recurrent pain in an arm or a leg (especially when both sides are battling) if we shifted from seeking treatment for the symptom to rather looking at the spine for the source of dysfunction and the resultant symptoms. It also goes a long way to explain why previous treatments may have been ineffective or gave only temporary relief.
I personally had longstanding symptoms in my right hip (and subsequently my right knee), which did not respond to treatment by other medical professionals, until I met someone trained in the McKenzie method in 2017. Despite being a qualified physiotherapist myself, I hadn’t grasped the importance of first clearing the spine and only learnt then that an asymptomatic spine said little about mechanical function. This is vital because we know that 98% of people experiencing back pain, have nothing more than mechanical restrictions causing their symptoms – even when it is utterly debilitating! Unless we correct those mechanics, any relief to local or referred symptoms will likely be limited and short-lived.
I would have seen patients in previous years, intending to provide the best possible care, but I was simply not equipped to do so effectively for some patients. And especially looking at how medical care is continuously being advanced, I will likely say this again in years to come: “I wish I knew then what we know now!”
We need to stop thinking of the spine as a fragile structure. Back pain is common, but a ‘weak spine’ is quite unusual. The belief that spines should be rested or protected is in fact the very thing which could make it weak!
Your spine consists of a string of joints and muscles which exist purely to allow for movement. Had this not been the intention, a spine would have been one long, rigid bone… So please stop protecting your spine from life. Start letting it move and be healthy! And only seek help in doing so if you are unsuccessful or seeing slow results.
Your health and physical wellbeing should be a priority deserving of quality care. Make sure to discuss any concerns you may have directly with your preferred physiotherapist, so that you can receive the appropriate guidance for your unique situation.
Contact us today to take charge of your health!
082 334 9028
Valley Centre Offices
396 Jan Smuts Avenue
(Convenient parking off Marian Road, behind the centre, up the ramp)
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