Keeping You in the Know: Mckenzie Method

Brett Winchester, DC

April 1, 2021

What is the Mckenzie Method? If you’ve ever been a patient here, we have more than likely put you through a Mckenzie assessment and sent you home with press-ups or chin retractions, that we love so much! Patients normally have a complaint of burning, shooting pain into the butt and/or leg or radiation into shoulder and arm with numbness and weakness. 

This method is a reliable assessment process intended for all musculoskeletal problems, including pain in the back, neck and extremities. By using repeated motion exam, we are able to indentify and classify each complaint.

Mckenzie is comprised of four primary steps:

Assessment: which includes a detailed history, repetitive movements, and figuring out how patient symptoms respond. We use this information to understand the nature of each problem.

Classification: We take the assessment information and break it into a Derangement, Dysfunction or Postural syndrome. Each group warrants education and an exercise based self management.

Treatment: Through finding directional preference we then take the patient through repeated movements to hopefully centralize or abolish the pain and increase range of motion. 

Prevention: After we treat, we will run patients through functional movements to work on stabilization of the core and keep the patient moving and feeling better.  

Pain is a symptom – not a diagnosis!

While every patient can benefit from the MDT, not all patients will be suitable. This is determined quickly so that alternative treatments can begin as soon as possible. In fact, research has shown that the initial McKenzie assessment procedures are as reliable as diagnostic imaging like xrays and MRIs to determine the source of the problem and quickly identify those who will or will not respond to the treatment principles of MDT using the Centralization phenomenon as a guide. 

Using MDT strategies has been shown to be able to:

  • reduce surgery rates
  • avoid surgical interventions
  • lead to better outcomes than therapy that is focused on spinal manipulation or general exercise
  • be cost effective

One of the most beneficial aspects of this therapy is the patient involvement and education. The McKenzie Method highly encourages both of these aspects, in order for you to better understand how this treatment helps to achieve patient goals. 



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