Dr Mitchell Yass is a man on a mission—to do nothing less than revolutionize orthopedic treatment, particularly when it comes to knee or hip replacements.
And for good reason. As a physiotherapist specializing in curing pain, his Florida treatment office is the last-chance saloon for people who have tried everything—from painkillers and surgery to chiropractic, osteopathy or acupuncture—all of which have failed to do much more than, at best, manage their pain.
Particularly frustrating for Mitch are the thousands of people who come to his office after having had a hip replacement surgery. They may have gotten a new hip, but the old pain is still there. They still can’t walk normally, and worst of all, many of their orthopedic surgeons blame it on the prosthetic device or the surgery itself.
About a third of these patients have even had the riskier ‘revision’ surgery just a few months after the first operation, but are still in pain. Some have gone through six surgeries before arriving at his office.
The reason why they’re still in pain, he says, is very simple: in more than 90 percent of cases, it’s not the hip joint that’s causing the problem. The problem lies with muscles surrounding the hips or in the legs, which are too weak to handle the rigors of everyday living and end up straining.
A strain is an overused muscle that gets stretched and ends up in spasm. It can cause pain in a nearby joint, difficulty using the joint’s full range of motion and limited flexibility—all the hallmarks of a deteriorated joint.
If the muscle imbalance is not corrected, the pain, limited flexibility and range of motion only get worse, leading many doctors to conclude that the problem lies with the joint, and not the supporting muscles around it.
“It could be the initial weakened muscle or the weakened muscle could cause another muscle to break down and emit pain,” says Yass.
With hip issues, Yass is scathing about the tendency of most orthopedists to rely on MRI or x-rays in order to diagnose issues. In his view, a joint is often like the innocent bystander blamed for murder simply for being at the scene of the crime.
He produces shocking medical studies showing that the same percentage of degenerative changes are seen in people with pain as in those with no evidence of a problem. For instance, a 2015 study led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine revealed that only 9 percent of patients with hip pain had arthritis, and 24 percent of patients with hip arthritis had pain. MRI scan statistics are similar
Yass claims that he’s been able to get thousands of people out of pain. His system starts with a simple do-it-yourself diagnosis of which muscles in the hips or legs are weakened and strained, and therefore responsible for the imbalance—which he describes in this issue.
Then, it’s just a matter of few simple isolated strength-training exercises using progressive resistance, which cause the muscles to get stronger, enabling their force output to be greater than the force requirements of the activities of daily life.
Yass’s system grew from his own background as a weight lifter and interest in body building. He decided to go into physiotherapy as a mature student, but much of what he was being taught about joints and muscles made no sense to him.
In his first job after graduation, Yass noticed that much of his patients’ pain appeared to have a muscular cause, rather than anything having to do with a joint.
Based on his background in weight lifting, he knew which exercises strengthened particular muscles most quickly, and which opposing muscles needed to be in balance. From there he began deviating from accepted physio practice to produce his own particular way of diagnosing and treating pain.
Amazingly, he found that people who’d had pain for years were reporting that their pain disappeared after just a few treatments using his simple system of isolating and strengthening certain key muscles.
Like Ed, who’d been through eight months of physio treatment, but was still hobbling with a cane when he came to Yass’s office. In just three days of exercises, Ed was off his cane and starting to walk upstairs unassisted.
At the moment, joint replacement is big business for the orthopedic industry and prosthetic joint companies, with the number of operations already skyrocketing and set to continue to surge by 171 percent in the coming years. All these vested interests probably won’t take the Yass Method lying down.
But if you’re scheduled for hip surgery or you’ve had it and are still in pain, you may want to check out Yass’s book The Pain Cure, with his simple strength-training exercises.
It’s high time that information about the true culprits to most pain were identified—and patients flexed their muscles over what is, too often, needless surgery.