Is the source of your extremity joint pain actually the spine? If it is, how would you be able to know?

A McKenzie Method aka Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) Assessment would be your best bet.

A recent study with a sample size of over 300 patients who had non-traumatic extremity joint pain looked into this, with the goal to determine which patients with extremity pain had symptoms that were of “spinal source” and which had symptoms that were of “extremity source”.

Based on the information gained via MDT assessments, it was found that 43.5% of the extremity pain patients in this study were diagnosed as having a “spinal source”. These patients were treated solely with a spinal intervention determined by the MDT exam, and had positive outcomes.

The study showed that joints closer to the spine (e.g. the hip and shoulder) had a higher prevalence of symptoms coming from the spine than joints farther from the spine. In this patient population, no individual joint, however, had less than a 25% prevalence of spinal source.

These findings are significant, because many people are being sent for extremity joint surgery after traditional conservative care proves unsuccessful. In many cases, as evidenced from this paper, the spine is actually the source of symptoms, however it isn’t detected. In addition, many of these patients have extremity joint findings on diagnostic imaging (e.g. X-Ray, MRI, etc.) that aren’t actually relevant to the patient’s condition. These may include, but aren’t limited to, peripheral joint osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, non-traumatic tears, etc. Based on this information alone, it is then determined that the patient needs surgery. In many cases they still have pain because the surgery is being directed toward the WRONG structure and doesn’t address the source of the symptoms.

It is vitally important, therefore, to rule out the spine in those with extremity pain, and the best way to do this is with an MDT exam. There is a very good chance you could avoid surgery and be pain free.

The McKenzie Method (MDT) is the primary assessment method used in our clinic.

Rosedale R, Rastogi R, Kidd J, Lynch G, Supp G, Robbins S. A Study Exploring the Prevalence of Extremity Pain of Spinal Source (EXPOSS) J Man Manip Ther. 2020