The McKenzie Method is not merely 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. There are many approaches to treating low back pain, but we have found this one to be the most simple and effective.
The McKenzie system can quickly determine if you are a good candidate for physical therapy or not. This is a strength of the system. If needed, it will allow you to be referred to the proper health care professional for an effective treatment, instead of wasting time and money doing therapy that will be ineffective. However, the majority of patient's do respond. They learn how to treat themselves, and also how to prevent future re-occurrences. There are essentially 4 steps to the process.
Step one is Assessment, identifying the problem. A person may have low back pain from a recent injury, or from an old injury that healed poorly. On the surface these will present in a similar fashion, as back pain. However, these problems will require very 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.
Step two is the 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.
Step three is the treatment itself (it starts on day one). The approach will vary depending on what the exact problem is. Often there is just a "mal-positioning" of a joint. By restoring the normal mechanics of the joint, normal pain free function can be restored. This can occur as easily in an elbow or shoulder as it can your spine (you can 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. Other times it may be something that requires more time like remodeling a short tissue, or tendon such as with Tendonitis/Tendonosis (think tennis elbow, runners knee, or Achilles tendon issues).
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.