McKenzie Method for back pain
Benefits of McKenzie Therapy for back pain:
With the McKenzie approach, physical therapy and exercise used to extend the spine can help “centralize” the patient’s pain by moving it away from the extremities (leg or arm) to the back. Back pain is usually better tolerated than leg pain or arm pain, and the theory of the approach is that centralizing the pain allows the source of the pain to be treated rather than the symptoms.
A central tenet of the McKenzie Method is that self-healing and self-treatment are important for the patient’s pain relief and rehabilitation. No passive modalities—such as heat, cold, ultrasound, medicine or needles—are used in the treatment.
The long-term goal of the McKenzie Method is to teach patients suffering from neck pain and/or back pain how to treat themselves and manage their own pain for life using exercise and other strategies. Other goals include:
Reduce pain quickly
Return to normal functioning in daily activities
Minimize the risk of recurring pain (avoid painful postures and movements)
Minimize the number of return visits to the spine specialist
The movement of pain from the extremities to the back will not occur with all patients. The McKenzie Method is designed to help patients where the pain does “centralize.” Please note: for some patients, such as those with lumbar spinal stenosis or facet joint osteoarthritis, extending the spine may actually increase their pain, so a consultation is necessary beforehand!
What are the causes of back pain?
There isn’t usually an underlying condition causing back pain – nothing shows up in tests and nothing is permanently damaged. This is called simple or non-specific back pain. Nine out of 10 people with simple back pain recover completely within six weeks.
You’re more likely to develop simple back pain if you:
- stand, sit or bend down for long periods
- lift, carry, push or pull loads that are too heavy, or if you go about these tasks in the wrong way
- have a trip or a fall
- are stressed or anxious
- are overweight
Occasionally, there may be a more serious underlying cause of your back pain, but this is rare. These causes include osteoporosis, a prolapsed (slipped) disc, spinal stenosis, malformation of the spine, infection or collapse of the vertebrae, tuberculosis or cancer.
The McKenzie Method was developed in the 1960’s by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist in New Zealand. In his practice, he noted that extending the spine could provide significant pain relief to certain patients and allow them to return to their normal daily activities. Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® is a philosophy of active patient involvement and education that is trusted and used by practitioners and patients all over the world for back, neck and extremity problems.