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Mechanical Therapy before Surgery for Disc Pain

The most successful surgery starts by choosing the right patients. In the world of low back care, doctors want to find a good way to choose the right patients for disc surgery. One way to do this is to use a system called the McKenzie test.

The McKenzie test involves arching the low back to its end point over and over. The test can be done while standing or lying down. Several studies report that the results of this test can be helpful when deciding for or against disc surgery. The McKenzie test helps show who will recover without surgery. The test can even be used with patients who have failed to get results with at least one month of other nonsurgical treatments.

Doctors from the University of Chicago Spine Center and Dartmouth Medical Center conducted a study with 63 patients. None of the patients had successful treatment. Treatment had included medication, spinal manipulation, and a quick return to regular activities. Bed rest was avoided. Each patient was sent by his or her doctor for surgery.

The authors think the results show that it's possible to find patients with disc pain who will recover without surgery. Some patients can get relief from pain by doing McKenzie exercises. This form of treatment is called mechanical therapy. Surgery can sometimes be avoided by using postures and exercises that support mechanical therapy.


F. Todd Wetzel, MD, and Ronald Donelson, MD, MS. The Role of Repeated End-Range/Pain Response Assessment in the Management of Symptomatic Lumbar Discs. In The Spine Journal. March/April 2003. Vol. 3. No. 2. Pp. 146-154.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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