The McKenzie Method is a research proven treatment approach for back, neck and extremity symptoms developed by a world renowned Physiotherapist Robin McKenzie. Robin McKenzie founded The McKenzie Institute International, which conducts educational programs and supports ongoing research in the McKenzie method throughout the world.
The McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) is a philosophy of active patient involvement and education that is trusted and used by practitioners and patients worldwide. It is a non-invasive, self-directed treatment that provides fast and effective relief, for both recent onset and chronic pain.
The key feature of the McKenzie method is its initial assessment component – a safe and reliable method to accurately reach a diagnosis and then develop an individualized treatment plan. Each treatment plan is designed to enable self-management. This is achieved through patient education, identifying aggravating factors and the instruction in how to perform exercises that will relieve pain.
Certified McKenzie therapists are trained to assess which exercises and postures are right for your pain. They are interested in teaching you how to care for yourself and will encourage you to be involved in self-managing. This can be best achieved if you understand what aggravates your symptoms and how they can be relieved.
The assessment involves a comprehensive mechanical evaluation which assesses the effect repeated movements and static positioning has on your symptoms. Once it is established which movements / postures improve your symptoms and which aggravate your symptoms the therapist is able to provide you with a mechanical treatment strategy aimed not only at resolving your current symptoms but also long term prevention. The exercise that reduces your symptoms forms the basis of your “treatment”. A large focus of your initial consultation is based on educating you how and why you developed your problem, what you can do to treat yourself, and how to resolve this episode and prevent future recurrences.
The assessment identifies the Correct Exercise for You. It will be the one which –
- Abolishes the symptoms
- Reduces the severity of your symptoms
- Centralizes the symptoms
Centralization is the movement of pain to a more central location. When this occurs as a result of the specific exercise or sustained position, it indicates the correct exercise is being performed.
Centralization of symptoms was first described by Robin McKenzie in the late 1950’s and is now recognized as an important clinical indicator of positive outcomes with mechanical and conservative treatment for spinal pain. Recently published scientific papers have demonstrated that centralization of symptoms with exercises is correlated with excellent treatment outcomes. Movements, postures and activities that causes the symptoms to centralize indicate the “preferred” / correct direction for the therapist to use when developing a self-management strategy for you.
The absence of Centralization is equally as important as it indicates that other mechanical diagnoses and treatment options are required. This can be determined in two or three visits and therefore the therapist can quickly advise you as to whether your symptoms are suitable for mechanical treatment.
Patient self-management skills are an integral part of the McKenzie treatment method. You will be well educated in what exercises are right for you, what activities you should avoid and what activities are safe for you to continue. When your exercises are not resolving your symptoms, the physiotherapist may need to include over pressures and mobilization ( manual therapy techniques).
McKenzie Therapists are focused on teaching you self management techniques to empower you to control your pain and resolve your condition in a minimum number of treatments. Typically this is between 3-5, however, the therapist will discuss this with you at your initial visit.
Although the McKenzie Method is most well known for its rapid relief for problems arising from the back or neck, it can work equally as effectively for extremity joints and soft tissues injuries in the knee, hip, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrist. Extremity joint problems often have a significant component coming from the spine. The therapist will always assess the spine for its potential involvement in your extremity joint problem to ensure that treatment is directed to the correct structure.