By far the most common form of ⚡ dysfunction ⚡ is that involving loss of extension. Having already explained and taught the postural requirements, we must now instruct the patient in the methods required to regain lost extension. We must explain to him the reasons for the need to recover the extension movement. The patient must realise that without an adequate range of extension it is not possible to sit with a lordosis, even when a lumbar support is used. For some patients it is imperative that the range of extension be improved, otherwise they will be unable to sit correctly. It is my experience that, following adequate explanation, patients will co-operate with the treatment and work hard at their recovery. They will perform exercises that cause discomfort or even pain, as long as they understand the reasons for doing so.


Fig. Recovery of loss of extension, using the procedure of extension in lying.


In order to systematically stretch the lumbar spine in extension, I have adopted a system in which the patient is able to use gravity and his own body weight to apply enough force for adequate passive stretching of the joints of the lumbar spine. This procedure, a modified press-up exercise, is extension in lying. If with this exercise the desired result is not obtained quickly enough or if progress ceases, extension in lying with belt fixation must be commenced.

If due to circumstances it is absolutely impossible to perform extension exercises in lying, extension in standing must be performed instead. But it must be emphasised that a far better extension stretch is obtained with extension exercises in lying.


The patient should be instructed to perform the exercise ten times on each occasion, and to repeat the series ten times a day at intervals of approximately two hours. It is most important to ensure that stretching occurs very regularly and the patient does not let more than two to three hours pass by without doing so.

The exercise routine should result in an increase of localised central back pain which subsides within ten to twenty minutes. The patient should also develop some new pains higher up in the spine and across the shoulders. These are normally the result of performing new exercises and holding a new posture. It is necessary to explain that the combination of the new posture and exercises will result in discomfort felt in other places; that this new aching is unavoidable and indeed necessary, but will pass after a week or so. Patients who do not complain of these transitional pains are probably not exercising adequately.


Irrespective of the category in which they may fall, all patients should be warned of the significance of producing peripheral pain. If exercises are found to produce peripheral pain, the patient should stop and wait until the next treatment when further advice should be sought.

The loss of function in patients in this group is usually resolved gradually over a period of about four to six weeks. After this period the patient may reduce the number of times the exercises are performed to four sessions per day, maintaining the number of ten repetitions at each session. I instruct my extension dysfunction patients that they should continue the programme and perform ten exercises twice daily for the rest of their lives.

READ:   The Postural Syndrome

Often it is desirable to keep some record of progress and the therapist may choose to take photographs to evaluate the improvement in the lumbar extension curve. The improvement is most evident in the first week, and therefore the first photographs should be taken on the first day prior to the commencement of the self-treatment programme.

Special techniques

As soon as progress slows down or ceases it is time to add mobilisation techniques. If after three to four mobilisation treatments no change is evident, the patient should be manipulated. Special techniques of mobilisation and manipulation are indicated, when the patient is unable to fully restore lumbar extension himself. These procedures may ensure full recovery of extension provided the extension exercises in lying are continued as well.

TYPICAL TREATMENT PROGRESSION — THE DYSFUNCTION SYNDROME Day one Assessment and conclusion/diagnosis. Explanation of the cause of dysfunction and the treatment approach. Postural correction and instructions, especially regarding sitting; demonstrate the use of a lumbar support. Commence with exercises to recover function — that is, extension in lying, flexion in lying, or side gliding in standing, whatever procedure is indicated. Emphasise the need to experience some discomfort during the exercises, and the importance of frequent exercising during the day. If flexion in lying is recommended, we must warn to stop exercising if the symptoms quickly worsen. We may have overlooked derangement, or commenced the procedure too early following recent derangement. Always follow flexion exercises with some extension. Day two Confirm diagnosis. Check postural correction. Completely repeat'postural correction and instructions. Check exercises. If improving nothing should be changed. If not improving, ensure tha...
Back Pain History Taking an accurate history is the most important part of the initial consultation when one is dealing with any medical or surgical problem. Unfortunately, when the mechanical lesion is involved there is still lack of understanding regarding the nature of the questions that should be asked, the reasons for asking them, and the conclusions to be drawn from the answers. I will set out step by step the stages that should be developed in history taking, and the questions that should be asked at each stage. Practitioners will already have their own method of history taking, and I do not suggest at all that they should alter their routine. However, I believe that the following questions must be included, if one is to reach a conclusion following the examination of patients with mechanical low back pain. INTERROGATION As well as the usual questions regarding name, age and address, one should enquire as to the occupation of the patient, in particular his position at work which provides us ...
The Derangements and Their Treatment DERANGEMENT ONE Central or symmetrical pain across L4/5. Rarely buttock or thigh pain No deformity In Derangement One the disturbance within the disc is at a comparatively embryonic stage. Due to minor posterior migration of the nucleus and its invasion of a small radial fissure in the inner annulus, there is a minimal disturbance of disc material. This causes mechanical deformation of structures posteriorly within and about the disc, resulting in central or symmetrical low back pain. The accumulation of disc material also leads to a minor blockage in the affected joint preventing full extension, but the blockage is not enough to force the deformity of kyphosis upon the joint. In patients with Derangement One the history, symptoms and signs are usually typical of the syndrome, and the test movements confirm the diagnosis of derangement. Because the disturbance within the joint is relatively small it responds well to the patients’ own movements, and the majority of pati...
Spine Health. PROCEDURE 15 — FLEXION IN STEP STANDING In this procedure the patient stands on one leg while the other leg rests with the foot on a stool so that hip and knee are about ninety degrees flexed. Keeping the weight bearing leg straight the patient draws himself into a flexed position, firmly approximating the shoulder and the already raised knee (both being on the same side). If possible the shoulder should be moved even lower than the knee. The patient may apply further pressure by pulling on the ankle of the raised foot. The pressure is then released and the patient returns to the upright position. The sequence is repeated about six to ten times. It is important that the patient returns to neutral standing and restores the lordosis in between each movement. Fig. Flexion in step standing. Effects: This procedure causes an asymmetrical flexion stress on the affected segments. It is applied when there is a deviation in flexion, which may occur in dysfunction as well as derangement. Both in dysfunction and derangement th...
Spinal manipulation techniques There are many differing philosophies and concepts surrounding the practise of spinal manipulation and its effects on the pathologies which may exist in the spine. To satisfy all these philosophies an equal number of institutions has developed, teaching those wishing to learn. No matter what school presents its case or which philosophy is adhered to, all manipulative specialists claim to have a high success rate. They all use techniques which vary in nature, application and intent; they proclaim that their own methods are superior to those used by others; and yet, somehow they all obtain uniformly good results. Self-limitation of low back pain plays, of course, a significant role in this happy situation. Apart from this there are definite benefits which are obtained quickly by using manipulative techniques. Throughout the years I have practised many forms of mobilisation and manipulation, including osteopathic and chiropractic techniques and those taught by Cyriax. I have come to be...