The McKenzie Method: PT Carmen Kowalski Shares Her Story

We’ve covered the McKenzie Method in an earlier post, outlining the theory and its origins. Today we want to take a deeper look at the treatment style with insight from Physical Therapist, Carmen Kowalski.

Carmen Kowalski, Physical Therapist

Carmen’s Early Experience with Physical Therapy

Similar to a lot of other clinicians, Carmen had an experience with physical therapy early on in life that led her to pursue a career in physical therapy.

“I had a bad fall during a high school basketball game and interestingly enough, my fall resulted in a low back injury and more specifically an extruded disc. I began to develop pain in my calf that was originally treated by the PT as a ‘calf strain,’” Carmen explained.

However, the PT’s quickly realized that her pain wasn’t coming from her calf but rather from her back.

“I went through conservative treatment consisting of PT and a steroid injection; however, I ended up having to have surgery,” Carmen said.

Post-surgery, Carmen returned to therapy for nearly three months and came to know her therapists very well.

“I literally thought, ‘I want to do this,’” Carmen shared. “Their dedication to my recovery and encouragement allowed me to return to high school sports and eventually play collegiate tennis. If it wasn’t for an excellent team working to get me better, I’m sure my outcome may have been different, and I wanted to be able to have that kind of impact on others.”

Carmen Becomes a PT and Pursues McKenzie Method Certification

After earning her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Rockhurst University in 2007, Carmen Kowalski joined the ARC Physical Therapy+ team.

Shortly after joining the team, ARC Physical Therapy+ identified the McKenzie Method as a treatment philosophy that aligned well with their patient population and the mission of the company and began hosting McKenzie courses.

For those who aren’t familiar, McKenzie Method, also known as Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment (MDT), is based on the use of movement and postures to impact structures affected by injury in order to provide the best stimulus for reduction of pain and improvement of function.

Thanks to ARC Physical Therapy’s level of involvement in the McKenzie Method courses, Carmen was able to complete the courses with a large group of co-workers. Right away she saw the value and results and was encouraged to pursue certification which requires 126 hours of coursework and passing the 8-hour credentialing exam.

“ARC Physical Therapy+ hosted 3 of the 4 McKenzie courses, so I was fortunate enough to complete these with a large group of my co-workers, also allowing us to all take the exam together,” Carmen explained.

Carmen Shares the Power of The McKenzie Method

“The McKenzie Method is great,” Carmen explained. “It doesn’t focus treatment on medical diagnosis or specific tissue, which may be particularly hard to isolate in the low back, rather it focuses on the specific symptoms and movement patterns that help reduce those symptoms, as well as addressing posture, which is almost always affected in some way with low back pain.”

The McKenzie Method can achieve results relatively quickly (within 3 visits) and the emphasis is placed on patient-directed treatment, so the patient can be an active participant in their recovery and not reliant on a therapist applying an intervention to them. The McKenzie Method requires little to no equipment and the exercises are usually relatively simple and easy to continue long-term for preventative measures.

Carmen has seen many successes from the McKenzie Method.

“I evaluated a patient with low back pain and radiculopathy into the left leg. When sitting on the edge of the table, the patient could not extend his left leg without significant increased pain,” Carmen shared.

“After performing 3-4 sets of repeated lumbar extension exercises, the patient sat back up on the edge of the table and was able to fully extend his left leg without pain. He was amazed and ecstatic, shouting, ‘It’s a miracle!’ For that patient, within 1 visit, we were able to make a significant change in his symptoms and function!”

To learn more about the McKenzie Method and to see if it’s right for you, contact your local ARC Physical Therapy+ clinic. Not sure which clinic is right for you? Call Scheduling at 844-755-4272(4ARC) to find out!

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