Author - Anastasia Belikov, PT, Cert. MDT
Graduated with her DPT in 2017
MDT and Low Back Pain
IN THE KNOW
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
With MDT and low back pain, the clinician will start with the lumbar spine, as this is a very common site of pain origination. In the spine, in between each section of bone (vertebrae), there is a special cushion called vertebral discs. Located just in front of the spinal cord, they are made of a soft, gelatinous inside and fibrous outside (think of it as a jelly donut!) These discs are the shock absorbers of your spine and are designed to move and bend with you.
The vertebrae enclose your spinal cord. At each segment of vertebrae, the spinal cord has projections, called spinal nerves. These nerves provide power to our muscles and sensation to our skin. If these nerves are irritated or damaged in any way, it can cause pain in your leg, commonly known as sciatica. A very common way that the nerves are irritated is when the disc (or jelly donut – your preference), is squeezed at the front, pushing all the “jelly” backwards so it touches the spinal nerve. This is called a bulging disc. The MDT system allows clinicians to identify if it is the disc causing the issue, and to which direction the disc is bulging.
The location of pain caused by the lower back (lumbar spine) can vary from person to person. Some have pain only in the lower back, whether that’s completely across the back, in the center, or only on one side. Others might have pain from the lower back, to the buttock, and extend down the leg to the knee or foot. Some individuals only have pain in the leg, but no lower back pain, or still others may only experience numbness, tingling, and weakness, but no pain. Other unfortunate individuals may have all the above symptoms. The MDT system is equipped to handle all of these symptoms and provides clear indications of when to refer to further medical follow-up if needed.
Reference: McKenzie, R., CNZM, OBE, FCSP (Hon), FNZSP (Hon), Dip MDT, Dip MT, & R. (2011). Treat Your Own Back (9th ed.). Spinal Publications New Zealand Ltd.