What Is The McKenzie Method?

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Welcome to The McKenzie Institute® USA media resource page.

This FAQ and collection of videos is designed to assist journalists covering physical therapy-related topics.

While this makes a good starting point, it is by no means exhaustive. Explore the rest of the site for more resources or contact our public relations department directly with questions here.

What are the basics of the McKenzie Method® of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® (MDT)?

The McKenzie Method is an evidence-based method of active patient care and education for back, neck and extremity problems. MDT works in three primary steps: assessment, treatment and prevention. The key distinction is its initial assessment component — a safe and reliable means to accurately reach a diagnosis and only then make the appropriate treatment plan. Treatment principles are guided by the effects of movement, usually a defined repeated movement that directly reduces or abolishes pain and restores function. Patients gain hands-on knowledge to learn how to self-treat, helping to minimize the risk of recurrence. Even patients who’ve suffered from chronic musculoskeletal pain for years can find success with an MDT assessment in as little as two to three visits.

What is the difference between the McKenzie Method and MDT?

The McKenzie Method and MDT are one in the same. The proper name of the approach as trademarked is the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT). The McKenzie Institute USA prefers the full name of the McKenzie Method on first reference. After that, McKenzie Method and MDT are interchangeable. The terms “McKenzie” “McKenzie Approach” or “McKenzie MDT” should not be used to describe the method. It is the McKenzie Method, the McKenzie Method of MDT or simply MDT.

What providers use the McKenzie Method of MDT?

The McKenzie Method relies heavily on a unique approach to assessment followed by a focus on self-treatment principles. Physical Therapy and Chiropractic care would be the typical environments. An MDT provider does not simply “fix” a patient. It is not a “one size fits all” solution. Each treatment plan is unique to that patient based on the individualized assessment (or evaluation). The goal of the McKenzie Method is patient independence once they have learned how to self-manage their problem.

What equipment do MDT providers use?

Generally speaking, there is no equipment required to practice the method. MDT providers rarely need to utilize special equipment, although some may benefit from a REPEX table. Supports known as “Lumbar rolls” for the back or “Cervical rolls” for the neck are sometimes included in a patient’s self-treatment program. When the active treatment management with MDT is resulting in a positive change in the patient’s symptoms, treatment adjuncts known as modalities (ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat, ice and traction) are passive approaches that are very rarely necessary.

Where did the McKenzie Method come from?

The late Robin McKenzie, a New Zealand physiotherapist, developed this patient-centered approach over several decades and it has become one of the world’s most widely researched methodologies in musculoskeletal care.

What is The McKenzie Institute?

The McKenzie Institute International (MII), based in New Zealand, holds the intellectual property of Robin McKenzie’s works. MII governs and grants licenses to branches worldwide as the only sanctioned centers for postgraduate study in MDT (currently 28 branches). Institute branches deliver the training and certification based on a structured curriculum meeting the highest educational standards. MII also manages the international Diploma Program in MDT, the premier level of training in the method.

How long has MDT been practiced in the U.S.?

The McKenzie Institute USA began training and certifying American physical therapists in the 1980s. Today there are thousands of MDT practitioners across the country.

Are all MDT clinicians certified?

No. The McKenzie Method of MDT is a postgraduate training program that many health care providers voluntarily elect to study after they have received a degree in their field. Approved providers must take a series of courses and pass an exam to be certified in MDT (see our Eligibility Policy for the list of approved providers). Providers who pass the certification exam have proven that they have a satisfactory level of competency in the method. The Institute credentials more than 150 clinicians each year in the basic level of certification. Some may claim to practice MDT, but the Institute will only recognize and promote those who have been certified and strongly recommends seeking out a certified provider for the best results.

How do I locate a clinician in my market to interview for a story or segment?

Contact The McKenzie Institute USA public relations department here to make arrangements with a reliable source.

Recent study statistics:

80 percent of patients suffering from chronic pain an average of eight years reported improvement after following the instruction of The McKenzie Institute’s Treat Your Own Back book.

See more studies here.