The key to recovery is understanding that the great majority of neck and back pain is the result of a sprain or weakness to the outside wall of the disc and that it’s not something to be stretched out! The sprain may have occurred suddenly due to trauma or gradually over time from the strain caused by poor posture and lifting habits. In either case, the end result is still a sprain – a ligamentous injury or weakness. The problem often feels muscular in origin, but it almost never is!
The truth is that the disc is the source of pain in up to ninety percent of neck and back conditions, from the first episode to the tenth episode, and from mild discomfort and tightness to excruciating back and leg symptoms that can include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. Once you understand this, along with the fact that the nature of the problem is a sprain and not a muscle pull, you’ll be well on your way to a fast recovery. Instead of trying to stretch the pain out and possibly causing further injury, you’ll realize that the best environment for healing is one that takes pressure off the sprained wall of the disc so it can tighten up and heal. Effective treatment must begin with the correct diagnosis. If the first episode of back or neck pain can be identified and managed correctly, future episodes and further injury to the disc can be prevented.
The good news is that most disc problems quickly resolve with the right exercise. Core strengthening exercises, stretches to address mobility issues, and postural/lifting/bending re-education are all important aspects of care, but all in the proper order. The specific structural problem, a sprain in the outside wall of the disc, must be identified and corrected first, for any treatment to be successful.
The most effective exercises for a fast and full recovery are not general stretching and strengthening exercises, but disc reducing exercises designed to correct disc bulging and take pressure off of the sprained wall so it can tighten up and heal. Identifying that one successful exercise that abolishes the pain and reduces the bulge, which in many cases leads to a full recovery all by itself, is what makes the McKenzie Method of evaluation and treatment so unique and effective. The McKenzie Method has been researched more than any other method in spinal care and has been proven to be more accurate than MRI in distinguishing painful from non-painful disc bulges. It’s a safe and effective method that empowers the patient with the knowledge and tools to treat their own pain.