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Myth Buster I: Hurt Does Not Equal Harm

Sara Shupe, MSPT, Dip. MDT is a physical therapist specialist and founder of J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc, a mobile, tele-health, and chat physical therapy provider servicing the Twin Cities Metro Area, greater Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Sara has presented early access models of mechanical diagnosis and therapy (MDT) in the treatment of low back pain to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) of MN, National Association of Spine Society (NASS) in San Diego and Utah, and The international MDT Conference in Miami, FL. Sara lives in Eagan, MN with her family. 

This blog introduces the first of a 6-part blog series on busting the common myths of back pain, musculoskeletal problems and physical therapy. One of the two top values of J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc. is honesty and integrity. We will not give you information based on our own beliefs, antidotes, or observations. Only what as been proven and/or accepted in the science of musculoskeletal health with the intention to reduce some of the strongest predictors of unnecessarily prolonging low back pain: fear. 

There are scary things we hear about back pain that can unsettle the mind. Words like "sciatica" sound more like a Greek Warrior and can strike fear into the soul of those unfortunate enough to google it. The word “degeneration” puts visions of a crumbling spine in our minds (or if you had an Aunt Emma like I did who was so stooped over she appeared as though her head sprouted from her chest). Especially if you are unfortunate to land on some web pages that would more accurately be called "I-think-I-have-cancer.com." 

Ufta!!! (for all those non-Minnesotans out there, this translates: Oh man!!)

It is very unfortunate that MRI use in the diagnosis and treatment of low back pain increases every year. The reports they generate often include words like "herniation" and “degeneration" when it describes your spine. At both the AAOMPT and International MDT conferences of 2019, the word “degeneration” was encouraged to be stricken from the record due to the fear it produces. For this and other fear-producing reasons, the science does not recommend the use of the MRI for the otherwise healthy person. These scans also demonstrate a lack of validity -  MRIs can describe "abnormalities" 40-60% of the time in people without pain. If you are blessed to have more white hair than I, that number jumps to 100%! Most practitioners have concluded that MRIs have done more harm than good in understanding appropriate and effective mind-body treatment of persons with back pain (Chou et al,  2009, The Lancet : Pain 2020, J. Miller et al 2017).

Well, It hurts. How do I proceed safely?

At J.O.Y. Physical Therapy Inc., we are experts trained in a method called Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT). It has been demonstrated in more than 50 RCT (Random Control Trials) to be one of the most reliable, valid and efficient methods in physical therapy today. In addition, we can understand how hopeless or fearful your may feel about your back pain by the scores of your standardized measures called FABQ and SBT. Using the powerful combination of MDT, FABQ, and SBT to guide us, we can show you how you can move and position in safety. This will reduce your fear; and return your sense of control. Using these MDT in combination with fear-debunking techniques, you should concurrently minimize and resolve your back pain over the period of time you are treating with us.

The opposite of fear - This is Good News!

Do not fear, MDT is here!!

  • Our patients average 4-5 visits for low back pain resolution vs 8-16 visits that are standard in USA physical therapy clinics

  • Improved patients’ function long term (we measure our patients at 6 month and 12 month follow up)

  • Reduced the likelihood for ever needing expensive and often unnecessary doctor visits, MRIs, injections, etc.

enJ.O.Y the experience today at www.joy-pt.com or call 651-800-MYPT 

Not in MN or WI? Go to www.mckenzieinstituteusa.org to find a MDT Provider near you.

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