The McKenzie Method was developed by New Zealand based physiotherapist, Robin McKenzie. It consists of a comprehensive mechanical evaluation which assesses the effect of repetitive movements and/or static positioning on the patient’s symptoms. This mechanical diagnosis enables the therapist to develop a mechanical treatment strategy aimed not only at resolving the patient’s current symptoms, but also at long term prevention of recurrence.
Recent research has shown the McKenzie assessment process to reliably differentiate discogenic from non discogenic pain. Furthermore, the McKenzie assessment process was more accurate than MRI in distinguishing painful from non painful discs.
This allows the medical practitioner the option to refer to a McKenzie trained therapist for a reliable and accurate opinion regarding discogenic diagnosis.
Recent meta-analyses (systematic reviews) of the literature have found the McKenzie Method to be efficacious in the management of acute low back pain.
Two randomised trials found that McKenzie therapy provides better results than a back school, with the McKenzie group demonstrating less sick leave, fewer recurrences and medical consults, less pain and increased ROM. Improvements were maintained at a five year follow-up.
Patient self-management skills are integral to the McKenzie Method. Therapists teach patients how to perform the specific exercise, positions, and static/dynamic posture corrections shown in the mechanical evaluation to have a direct therapeutic benefit. Patients are also taught to avoid specific movements, postures and activities that clearly increase and worsen their condition. Manual therapy techniques, such as mobilisation and manipulation, are introduced if the self-treatment strategies fail to fully resolve the problem.
Therapists with expertise in the McKenzie Method have completed postgraduate studies to achieve a Credential (base level) or Diploma (advanced level) qualification. These practitioners apply assessment and treatment methods of the McKenzie system to a variety of mechanical conditions affecting the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine and the peripheral joints.