Let's finally answer the big question: What is mechanical pain? We talked about the 5 ways to irritate a nerve. Compression, Tension, Chemical (inflammation), Thermal, and Behavioral.
In its simplest terms, mechanical pain is anything that comes from those first two types of irritation: Compression or Tension. A physical, or mechanical, force is being applied to a tissue with nerve receptors capable of telling the brain they are being squeezed or stretched to the point of potential damage. As high as 83% of back pain, and likely a similar percentage of joint aches and pains, fall into this category.
Part of the reason chiropractors have stuck around so long and are effective at treating back pain, neck pain, headaches, even shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, and other problems, is because they address mechanical issues. An adjustment helps you move, and moving is one of the best ways to decrease compression and tension. In fact, Bed rest is now considered bad advice for back pain treatment.
However, the best chiropractors don't stop at an adjustment. They include other ways to manage mechanical problems. The Mckenzie method is one of the best systems for diagnosing and treating mechanical pains (The "Cert MDT" title that comes with Mckenzie coursework stands for certified in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy)
If 83% of low back pain is mechanical in nature, treatment should focus on those mechanics first and aim to apply anti-inflammatories only when appropriate. When a doctor prescribes an anti-inflammatory medication for pain, it does not address any mechanical issues that may be causing, or at the very least, contributing to your symptoms.
The McKenzie method is wonderful because it is a reliable system to determine what mechanical problems are present, and the best ways to resolve them. Tune in for our next post to learn more about why we think the MDT system is the best approach for treating Musculoskeletal problems.