The McKenzie Method - Corydon Physiotherapy Clinic in Winnipeg, MB - .

The McKenzie Method for Neck and Back Pain

The McKenzie method of treatment was developed in the 1970’s by Robin McKenzie, a physiotherapist from New Zealand.  It is one of the most highly recognized and researched treatments for neck and back problems.  Physiotherapists who use McKenzie treatment successfully have had specialized training from the McKenzie Institute.  At Corydon Physiotherapy, all of our physiotherapists have McKenzie training, and Kelly Milan is certified in the McKenzie method.

The McKenzie approach starts with a thorough evaluation that determines the cause of pain by checking posture, and all the different movements of the neck or back.  By determining which movements cause or relieve the pain, the condition is categorized into one of the following:

  • postural pain (syndrome)
  • spinal dysfunction (shortened and tight muscles and ligaments)
  • derangement syndrome (disc pain and injury)

How does it work?

If the pain is from poor posture, the physiotherapist will teach proper posture for sitting or standing whether at a work station or during recreation.  They will show proper exercises to relieve the pain, and will teach about good back support in a chair and proper workstation set-up.

The McKenzie method focuses on showing people how to self-treat their pain and creating independence.

If the condition is due to tight, shortened muscles and ligaments (decreased flexibility of the neck or back), the physiotherapist will teach proper exercises that will eventually improve the movement in the spine. One is example is below.

There is a point when the therapist will also apply hands on techniques to help speed up a person’s rehabilitation. Once the flexibility improves, the pain will also go away. Of course, proper posture and back education is also provided.

Finally, if the condition is due to disc pain and disc injury, the physiotherapist determines which movements and exercises are to be performed to reduce pain and reduce the injury. Disc pain is usually caused by the gel center (nucleus) of the disc moving backwards and causing a bulging to some degree shown below. Certain movements and techniques by the physiotherapist will "squeeze" and move the gel back to the center of the disc, and reduce the disc bulging. One example is the press up shown below.

How effective is it?

There are many studies showing the effectiveness of the McKenzie approach. One study involved Corydon Physiotherapy. 312 low back pain patients were examined using the McKenzie method. The study found that patients who were given McKenzie treatment improved much more than if they were given non McKenzie treatment in terms of pain, medication use and daily function. This study highlighted the strength of the McKenzie system for developing a correct treatment plan (Long. A, Spine 2004).  In another study, 136 patients were assigned to one of 3 groups. A McKenzie program group, mechanical low back traction group, and a back education group. The McKenzie group had a success rate of 97% based on their improved symptoms. The back traction group’s success was 50% and the back education group 38% (Ortho Trans 1986).

For a thorough McKenzie evaluation, please contact Corydon Physiotherapy Clinic.

For more information on the McKenzie method click here.