3 Approaches to Back Pain treatment EXPLAINED!

Back Pain treatment is a complex beast.

Because of this, physiotherapists like to have a bunch of options in their treatment toolkit for each unique case (and person!) that presents to the clinic.

The methods we use for Back Pain at our clinic most commonly are the following:

  • Clinical Pilates
  • ConnectTherapy & The Thoracic Ring Approach (LJ Lee)
  • The McKenzie Method
  • Good old fashioned strength and conditioning
  • Dry Needling and Acupuncture
  • Modern pain science principles
  • Mulligan Technique
  • Maitland Method

and the list goes on… but lets keep it simple and talk about the first 3 on the list today.

What are these methods and how do I know which method is right for me?

Today I will talk you through the top 3 methods on our list and outline the situations in which you may be more suitable to a certain approach. Of course – sometimes (a lot of the time) or physio’s use a hybrid of all 3 treatment styles to suit your unique situation. Let’s dive in!

Clinical Pilates

What is it?

We assess your movement patterns to determine a specific “direction preference” or “movement bias”. Exercises performed in this very specific pattern can often afford very immediate changes in range of motion, pain and power output.
For example – a classic case is someone who prefers walking and standing but feels worse with prolonged sitting. Exercises performed in the “extension” direction (moving the spine backwards) will often be more immediately effective, whereas flexion exercises such as crunches will make you immediately worse.

Exercise programs are designed around these movement biases to strengthen these ‘helpful’ movement patterns. Sometimes over the course of a few weeks of exercise, patients can gradually begin to train “out of their bias” as they become more aligned and balanced in their musculoskeletal system.

We make use of classic Pilates equipment such as Reformers and Trapeze tables.

Who’s it for?

People who like to take more control over their own symptoms. Clinical Pilates is very much ‘self treatment’.

Initially it is beneficial to be guided by a physiotherapist to determine the right patterns of exercise, but gradually the goal is to become self-sufficient and in control of your own treatment.

If you like classes – this could also be another reason to explore this path as we offer small 4 person capacity Clinical Pilates classes.


ConnectTherapy and The Thoracic Ring Approach

What is it?

Developed by Canadian Physiotherapist Dr Linda Joy Lee – this approach is highly detailed and holistic.

In the 1 hour initial appointment your physiotherapist will dive deep into your past injury history, perform a head-to-toe movement screen and map out the position of just about every joint and muscle in your body.

They will then piece together any missing links between your back pain and things happening elsewhere in your body. Results can often be surprising.

Back Pain coming from issues in the feet, knees, shoulder, neck or ribs… these are all possible. It’s our job to be the detective and figure out these underlying contributors to your Back problem.

Once the underlying driver is determined, your physiotherapist will put together a treatment plan which can involve muscle and joint release, exercise and more.

Who’s it for

This approach can be useful for anyone with Back Pain!

While it can be useful for anyone with back pain, we find that this approach is particularly effective for people who seem to have tried everything but have never had lasting success.


McKenzie Method

What is it?

The McKenzie Approach is a tried and tested approach that physiotherapists have been using for years.

For good reason too.

The McKenzie Approach has continued to develop and move with the latest research and this is why we continue to come back to this mainstay methodology.

Similar to Clinical Pilates, a McKenzie trained physiotherapist will find your specific “direction preference” or “movement bias”. This could be bending, straightening, sidebending and more.

Treatment will generally be performed into this direction and could take the form of repeated exercise movements or manual / hands on therapy promoting this direction of movement in your spine.

Who’s it for

People who like a simple yet effective approach which is easy to follow.

Exercise is generally instantly effective even after just a few repetitions which makes it easy to do your ‘physio homework’ and the methodology just makes alot of sense. Basically you need to move more in the direction that feels good!

Our very own physiotherapist Tim Cathers is a Mckenzie Certified Practitioner and completed his diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy in 2019. He even runs the social media account for the McKenzie Institute. Go Tim!

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