The McKenzie Method is not "an exercise" as many incorrectly believe. The McKenzie method (aka MDT - Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy) is a comprehensive evaluation and treatment system. Used properly, the cause of your pain can be quickly identified and a treatment specific to that problem prescribed.
The McKenzie system can quickly determine if you are a good candidate for physical therapy or not. The vast majority of patient's do respond to conservative treatment (avoiding injections, narcotics, and surgery). They learn how to treat themselves, and also how to prevent future re-occurrences. There are 4 steps to the process.
Step one is assessment, identifying the problem. For example, back pain. On the surface back pain may present in a similar fashion but it can have many different causes and thus require different treatment approaches. This is why treatment that is generic and just revolves around "core strengthening" or "stretching" often fails. One size does not fit all. You can't use core strengthening to remodel scar tissue, nor can you stretch away (nor should you) a herniated disc.
Step two is classification. It's essential to a good outcome to classify the pain. It's similar to your doctor running labs to decide what medication to use. Specific bugs require specific medication. It's the same with treating pain. Scar tissue requires a different treatment than an acute disc injury, which is different than a strained muscle.
Step three is the treatment itself (it starts on day one). The approach will vary depending on what the exact problem is. Often by restoring the normal mechanics of the joint normal pain free function can be restored. This can occur as easily in an elbow as it can your spine (read a case paper our lead PT wrote about a rapidly reduced shoulder patient HERE). For many patients this results in a rapid reduction of pain, and restoration of functional mobility even on day one.
Step four is prevention. Re-occurrence of low back pain is common. So the 4th phase is keeping you in a pain free state. There will be techniques and instruction provided during and toward the end of your treatment that are aimed specifically at keeping you out of pain long after you complete PT.
The McKenzie method is recognized and used internationally. You can learn more about here: http://www.mckenzieinstitute.org/patients/. We are currently the only clinician owned McKenzie certified clinic within the state of Alaska.
Reference: Deutscher, D., et al. (2014). Physical Therapist' Level of McKenzie Education, Functional Outcomes, and Utilization in Patients With Low Back Pain. JOSPT, 44(12): 925-936.
Lam, O., et al. (2018). Effectiveness of the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy for Treating Low Back Pain: Literature Review With Meta-analysis. JOSPT, 48(6): 476-490.