Effective Self-Treatment with the McKenzie Method

A female physiotherapist works with an older male patient lying on a treatment bed

The McKenzie Method is a non-invasive approach to physical therapy, providing pain management through effective diagnosis, patient education and self-treatment. In this article, we’re explaining how this innovative method works for many patients in Australia.

The McKenzie Philosophy

Many of our clients have heard about the McKenzie method as a self-treatment system for back pain, but this is only one small part of what the McKenzie approach includes.

Robin McKenzie began developing his method in the early 1950s as a complete physiotherapy philosophy for diagnosis, physician-lead therapy and self-treatment to eradicate pain for his patients. His goal was to teach patients how to manage and treat their own pain without needing constant physiotherapy or external modalities such as needles, medicines, heat or cold.

Mechanical Diagnosis for New or Chronic Pain

The first step in the McKenzie method, as with all physiotherapy approaches, is effective evaluation and assessment. This involves a comprehensive mechanical evaluation where your therapist will direct movements of your spine and limbs in order to assess the effect of motion and static positioning on your symptoms.

The assessment process follows a safe and reliable procedure which has been shown to be just as effective as diagnostic imaging, without the cost or inconvenience. At the end of the assessment, your therapist will be able to establish which daily movements are causing or aggravating your pain and identify the route source.

Centralisation of Pain

A key aspect of the McKenzie treatment method is the ‘centralisation’ of pain in the body. Your physical therapy and exercises will aim to centralise your pain into the middle of your body, for the dual purpose of making the discomfort easier to tolerate and to make sure that the source of your pain is being treated, not merely the symptoms.  Centralisation is recognised as a significant clinical indicator of success in treatment for spinal pain.

Treatment Through Education

The McKenzie approach is intended to arm you with the knowledge and exercises you need to manage your pain at home. Your physical therapist will help you to understand how and why your problem developed and how to prevent future recurrence.

Other approaches to treating back pain focus on muscle strengthening and restoring the range of motion, but the McKenzie approach teaches you a series of simple exercises to resolve your symptoms by directly diminishing or eliminating pain through corrective directional movements. Common exercises include extensions and rotations whilst standing or lying, with a cautious progression of repeated force as symptoms decrease.

Long-Term Success

The McKenzie approach, also known as Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment (MDT), is internationally recognised as a highly successful method of treatment for patients with spinal and other pains. The emphasis on education means that patients can make significant progress in between sessions with a physical therapist, making treatment faster and more cost-effective. Through the McKenzie treatment, you will learn what kinds of activities to avoid and what motions are safe for you to undertake in order to return to a pain-free daily life.

To learn more about the McKenzie method and how it can help you, contact the Power Physiotherapy team now on (08) 9440 6125 or visit our contact page for more ways to get in touch.