Learn more about the McKenzie method approach to therapy, which may help relieve pain and restore function to the neck or back.

McKenzie method may help ease aches

Image Neck Pain Image Neck Pain Image Neck Pain

The McKenzie method is a therapeutic system named after a New Zealand physical therapist, Robin McKenzie, who introduced these techniques in 1956. This method entails an extensive, systematic mechanical examination of the neck, back or extremities to detect movements that can abolish pain and restore function.

By identifying these movements, the therapist can teach these techniques to the patient, empowering the patient with self-treatment skills for better outcomes and more cost-effective care for the patient.

The evaluation entails getting a thorough history of the problem, as well as a postural and range of motion (ROM) assessments. Evaluations and treatment are carried out by physical therapists thoroughly trained and certified in the McKenzie method.

A working diagnosis typically finds patients in one or a combination of these categories:

  1. Postural syndrome in which pain is caused by stress on soft tissue only in certain postures or positions.
  2. Dysfunctional syndrome in which pain and/or decreased movement arise from injured or scar tissue, nerve fiber damage or nerve root problems
  3. Derangement syndrome in which pain is caused by an obstruction to movement in a joint, including conditions such a spinal disc injury.

Physical therapists trained in the McKenzie method can quickly determine which patients are candidates for this course of treatment. Patients whose pain comes from mechanical causes typically find McKenzie therapy beneficial.

Diagnoses which respond favorably include:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Herniated discs in the spine
  • Nerve root compression
  • Extremity joint range of motion dysfunctions
  • Postural dysfunctions
  • Common mechanical problems such as shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, hip bursitis, knee pain or patellofemoral pain and plantar fasciitis

Patients with non-mechanical pain can be quickly identified, at which time alternative types of therapy or other medical interventions can be explored as appropriate.


About the Author

Chris Odinetz has more than 25 years of experience including treatment of neurological and orthopedic patients. She specializes in treatment of the spine and is certified in the McKenzie method of mechanical diagnosis and treatment, which she applies to both spinal and extremity joint problems. She enjoys empowering patients to take control of their pain and regain mobility through individualized programs incorporating posture, body mechanics and appropriate exercises.