The McKenzie Method – For People with Chronic Pain

McKenzie Method-Chronic Pain - tailor made exercises for pain management

A physiotherapy method, the McKenzie System focuses on centralizing pain and managing it with repeated exercises.

What is The McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment, also known as MDT is a physiotherapy method of primary care developed by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist from New Zealand and has been in wide spread use for over 3 decades now. A central tenet of the McKenzie Method is that self healing is important for a patient’s pain relief and rehabilitation.

The Three Essential Steps of the McKenzie Method are:

Evaluation: Evaluation consists of observing a similar set of movements and sustained postures to elicit pain and the response to pain which is then categorized into subgroups that help in making a treatment plan.

Treatment: the direction of the pain, during tests performed in the evaluation process, decides what the treatment process of the patient is. The aim here is to centralize the pain working in a fashion so that every patient experiences a full recovery. Treatment encourages patients to

Prevention: this step is where repetition of the exercises is recommended so that further pain can be prevented.

McKenzie tailor made exercises for pain management

Classification and Management in the McKenzie System 

The McKenzie method has the patients being classified into three categories, based on the management approach it requires.

  • Posture: where the pain happens because of bad /incorrect posture. The pain then disappears when the posture is corrected. An example of this can be sitting incorrectly at the workplace. Treatment is essentially correcting the posture and teaching the right posture to the person.
  • Dysfunction: caused by deformation of structurally impaired tissues. The pain/discomfort happens when movement is pushed past the scope of restriction. Treatment focuses on exercises that make it pain free over a period of time.
  • Derangement: caused during a shift from a normal position of the affected joint. The treatment observation of what precisely causes this and understanding the response to repeated movements. 

Common Misconceptions About The Mckenzie Method

  • MDT is just exercises: While a part of treatment in MDT is exercises, it is not only about exercises. The McKenzie method is about assessment of the problem so that a solution may be found specifically to treat that. The treatment process starts with categorizing the kind of problem it is, derangement or dysfunction or posture and then moving on to fix it.
  • This method is only about repeated exercises: MDT is not just about doing the same exercise unthinkingly, but is a series of repeated exercises that not only identifies the problem area but also corrects it.
  • MDT is only about derangement: Of the three classifications according to MDT, the most common is Derangement, therefore fuelling the misconception that the McKenzie method is only for derangement. The other two classifications, dysfunction and posture are just as important. There are also various sub categories that are recognised and managed by practitioners of the McKenzie Method.
  • MDT is all about repeated actions of the body without the influence of the mind: The McKenzie method involves the mind as well as the body. The management process in this method has a very strong base in the psychosocial behaviour of the patient and the practitioners are trained to recognise it and adjust accordingly.

Why Yashoda

Of the many options available for treatment using the McKenzie Method, it is important to find the right practitioner to ensure that the treatment is effective. Yashoda Hospitals’ Department of Physiotherapy , with the focus on patient care, has a team of highly specialized practitioners who are capable and very experienced in the method as well. Expertise of the Physiotherapy department rests with the doctors who work hand in hand with specialists of other departments, including orthopaedics , gynaecologists , among others to provide personalized solutions to patients.



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