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Dear Friend, 

I am asked often, "Do you treat anyone with back pain?" Truth be told, back and neck pain are of great interest to me. I had the unfortunate experience of having a lumbar disc injury while in my early 20's and a cervical disc problem in my mid 40's. I will never forget that pain! It is a pain that is capable of stopping most people in their tracks. It is a pain that can cause one to fall on the ground in a millisecond in the most intense pain and spasms. It is a pain like no other!
Many studies show that physical therapy is the second or third option for back and neck patients. I can tell you, first hand, that it was my first option! I can also tell you that because of choosing to have physical therapy, I avoided having surgery. I believe that a large part of the problem in making the treatment decision, is that physical therapy has failed to educate the media and all who experience this kind of pain, of their expertise in this area. I also believe we (physical therapists), need to begin getting the word out to all spine pain patients what many physicians have already learned. 
Dr. Anthony Komaroff is a physician and professor at the Harvard Medical School. He recently shared information from some of their medical studies. He states, " ...physical therapy may relieve spinal stenosis as effectively as surgery does." The study, he mentions, included 170 people in their late 60's with lumbar spinal stenosis. 
He also mentioned other studies that have found patients with spinal stenosis may have immediate relief from the surgery, but that same holds true 2 years down the line for patients that have had ONLY physical therapy. The studies have shown similar pain relief, better movement and improved quality of life. Dr. Komaroff ends his article saying that he thinks it would be worth giving physical therapy a try before surgery.
I am glad that we are finally studying the results of patients with spine pain. I am also glad that many of the newest studies are promoting the importance of physical therapy. I hope, if you have spine pain in your neck or lower back, that you consider asking your physician for a referral to your closest physical therapist. If you live in Indiana, you can see your physical therapist without a referral and begin taking greater charge of your health.
Please give us a call if we can help keep you stronger, healthier and free from pain! 
Have a great day!
Health Information

9 Things You Should Know About Pain
Pain is output from the brain. While we used to believe that pain originated within the tissues of our body, we now understand that pain does not exist until the brain determines it does. The brain uses a virtual "road map" to direct an output of pain to tissues that it suspects may be in danger. This process acts as a means of communication between the brain and the tissues of the body, to serve as a defense against possible injury or disease.

The degree of injury does not always equal the degree of pain. Research has demonstrated that we all experience pain in individual ways. While some of us experience major injuries with little pain, others experience minor injuries with a lot of pain (think of a
paper cut).

Despite what diagnostic imaging (MRIs, x-rays, CT scans) shows us, the finding may not be the cause of your pain. A study performed on individuals 60 years or older who had no symptoms of low back pain found that 36% had a herniated disc, 21% had spinal stenosis, and more than 90% had a degenerated or bulging disc, upon diagnostic imaging.

Psychological factors, such as depression and anxiety, can make your pain worse. Pain can be influenced by many different factors, such as psychological conditions. A recent study in the Journal of Pain showed that psychological variables that existed prior to a total knee replacement were related to a patient's experience of long-term pain following the operation.

Your social environment may influence your perception of pain. Many patients state their pain increases when they are at work or in a stressful situation. Pain messages can be generated when an individual is in an environment or situation that the brain interprets as unsafe. It is a fundamental form of self-protection.

Understanding pain through education may reduce your need for care. A large study conducted with military personnel demonstrated that those who were given a 45-minute educational session about pain sought care for low back pain less than their counterparts.

Our brains can be tricked into developing pain in prosthetic limbs. Studies have shown that our brains can be tricked into developing a "referred" sensation in a limb that has been amputated, causing a feeling of pain that seems to come from the prosthetic limb - or from the "phantom" limb. The sensation is generated by the association of the brain's perception of what the body is from birth (whole and complete) and what it currently is (post-amputation).

The ability to determine left from right may be altered when you experience pain. Networks within the brain that assist you in determining left from right can be affected when you experience severe pain. If you have been experiencing pain, and have noticed your sense of direction is a bit off, it may be because a "roadmap" within the brain that details a path to each part of the body may be a bit "smudged." (This is a term we use to describe a part of the brain's virtual roadmap that isn't clear. Imagine spilling ink onto part of a roadmap and then trying to use that map to get to your destination.)

There is no way of knowing whether you have a high tolerance for pain or not. Science has yet to determine whether we all experience pain in the same way. While some people claim to have a "high tolerance" for pain, there is no accurate way to measure or compare pain tolerance among individuals. While some tools exist to measure how much force you can resist before experiencing pain, it can't be determined what your pain "feels like."

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us today! (574)233-5754

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MPT News & Happenings
The MPT staff had a rewarding experience at the Women Build event for the Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County!

Join the MPT Team as we support the South Bend Education Foundation Truck Pull and Family Fun Fair October 3rd! More info

Fran's Favorite Quotes

"Joy is not in things, it is in us"
"Favorite Physical Therapy"
McDonald Physical Therapy


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