Chronic lower back pain affects every day of your life. It feels hopeless when ordinary motions like sitting up in the morning or hugging a loved one trigger pain but medical professionals don’t seem to have a real solution. That’s how I felt for two years after injuring my lower back. I came to feel that my best days were gone and I’d have to accept that my body would never feel strong and functional again. That is, until I visited Dr. Jim at my brother’s insistence. In a warm and friendly way, Dr. Jim walked me through an examination of the mechanics of my lower-back pain then proposed a plan of action that would allow me to live pain-free, without surgery or pharmaceuticals. Dr. Jim’s approach makes a lot of sense and I’m grateful to him for helping me regain my health and my hope.
Garrett Schneider, 39, California
I am so grateful to Dr. Jim and his care using the McGill method. My problem started over the course of several months when I developed a progressively worsening pain in my buttock. After seeing several providers I eventually received a correct diagnosis of a herniated lumbar disc. However even with a correct diagnosis after a about a month of treatment with NSAIDs and physical therapy my pain continued to get worse and finally exploded to the point where I was unable to work or carry out my activities of daily living.
I then read about the McGill method and was fortunate to find Dr. Jim. The approach is fundamentally different from the current standard of care in that it actually addresses the root cause of the injury. After identifying the mechanism of my injury, Dr. Jim was able to teach me how to re-engineer my movements, and concurrently develop the appropriate musculature to sustain these movements. Now after 2 months of this approach I have seen gradual progress and am now essentially pain free and have been able to return to my life and work. Without Dr. Jim I am virtually certain that I would have needed surgery to alleviate my pain.
As I a physician myself there is no question in my mind that the McGill method should be the standard of care for all back pained patients.
Ryan Clare, MD
I have suffered from a very severe low back injury for over 50 years since I was 15 years old. Until Dr Jim, not one doctor or other practitioner has ever given me a sensible description of how my spine was injured that led to a lifetime of pain, and what might reliably be done about it.
I saw multiple chiropractors, and all of them tried their best in good faith using their standard bag of tools; acupuncture specialists who could possibly relieve pain temporarily but it would immediately return when I began to move again; MDs who routinely offered drugs; an old-time (my age) good guy GP who said he had the same problem, and who had thrown up his hands and relied on heavy duty Tylenol and rest when it really hurt; a pain center that had two solutions and no others, surgery or an incredibly dangerous spinal shot several times of year at great cost and risk each time; a D.O who identified the source of the pain 8 inches higher on the spine that it actually is, but who persuaded me to stop exercising at the age of 50, with terrible consequences in a degrading musculature; yoga, karate, diet, strenuous exercise, no exercise, weightlifting, avoiding weightlifting, swimming, avoiding swimming, and the list goes on.
I tried each and every one and things either did not get better or got much worse, but in each case, I had no idea why things would either not get better or get worse. In other words I had no hypothesis about what was happening in my spine that I could test. Without understanding what was happening, practitioners would say “try this,” and if it didn’t work, there could be no follow up because there was no insight about what was actually happening in my back.
In the first 30 minutes of our first appointment, after interviewing and testing me about various forms of movement that cause pain, Dr Jim used careful but vigorous palpation and probing along and in between the vertebra to identify the precise location of the pain, and the forms of movement that trigger the pain. From that, he deduced what was happening within the spine.
He explained how the injury “destabilized” the L3 vertebra, so it is moving around much more than it should independently of the vertebrae above and below it, why that leads to what feels like random and uncontrollable pain, and what can be done to reduce the incidence and severity of the pain. He gave me instruction and confidence about what I can do to avoid re-triggering the pain for the most part, and what I can do to gradually (over the course of at least a year or more) improve enough to engage in ordinary pleasures: traveling, hiking, even dancing and swimming. He gave me realistic estimates of the time necessary to move toward something approximating recovery, based on the time it takes the body to grow or amend cartilage structures.
He cautioned against expecting a full recovery. That is comforting, because the tendency is to desperately seek a “cure” that will permanently relieve me from the pain. That leads only to frustration, and then hopelessness if a permanent “cure” is the only thing you’ll be satisfied with. He offered no magic “cure,” and avoided the false hope of instant relief using drugs or surgery.
He recommended as much as a year of very carefully avoiding the movements that retrigger the pain, and that break down structures that might otherwise help stabilize the vertebra. This is a common sense executable plan of recovery, and gives me the first hope I’ve had in 50 years that things can get better over time, and in ways that I can understand and influence by controlling my movements.
I’ve been working with Dr Jim for five months now, and I know what I’m doing wrong and when I’m doing it right. That in itself is a victory. I’ve learned the right kind of chair to sit in, and that by itself has substantially increased my productivity as a lawyer. He even suggested exercises to strengthen the area, but without triggering further pain.
I’m looking forward to a more active and less painful life.
Anthony Jeffries, 68, New Mexico
I have spondylolisthesis. As my lower-back pain became more constant and severe it forced me to become more sober. I was not invincible. My skeletal structure wasn’t going to fix itself. So I sought more information. I got some tests done and was given a list of shall-nots (don’t get a gut, don’t do heavy squats, don’t sleep on my stomach, etc.). That seemed lacking. I wanted to proactively better my situation. Fortunately, a friend put Dr. Stuart McGill on my radar. I consumed his content and began to employ his spine hygiene method. But as with most things, the value of hands-on experience cannot be understated. Thus I was ecstatic to learn that Lysander Jim — one of only 15 McGill Method Master Clinician’s in the world, and the only medical doctor — was four short hours from my location. I soon had an appointment scheduled.
My spinal assessment with Dr. Lysander Jim was thorough and informative. He helped me to better understand my own pain triggers and in a hands-on yet extremely comfortable way, worked with me to refine my movement patterns. Dr. Jim’s patience, clarity, and joyful demeanor throughout meant that I left the clinic empowered — with more knowledge and confidence that I can constructively address my lower-back issue and live a pain-free (and surgery-free) life.
Pete Eyre, 38, Nevada
I was experiencing sciatica due to a herniated disk in my L4/L5 area which became so severe I could no longer work. I was seeing doctors through the insurance network but they were not able to do much for me other than recommend some medication which brought no relief (I did not want opioids). A friend recommended the book Back Mechanic, and some basic instruction from the book reduced the pain level to where I could work, but I still experienced great discomfort on a daily basis.
Soon after I went to see a McGill certified specialist Dr. Lysander Jim, and with the assessment and coaching provided during my encounter followed by several weeks of exercise (additional coaching was crucial), I experienced an immense improvement in my day to day pain levels. I have a new and more nuanced understanding of the triggers which cause my pain and more effective ways to remedy when needed.
The assessment and coaching was tailored to me, which is something which was lacking in books or internet forums which are filled with conflicting advice dispensed to a crowd but not actually suitable for any individual. In speaking to other friends and family with back pain, I find that every person’s experience seems to be a little different, and I think this is the biggest difference in seeing a McGill specialist vs other specialists: that you get individual, high level assessment from a practitioner who has blocked off a large chunk of time specifically for you.
US Military Veteran, 34, California