The McKenzie Method: Megan Westman, DPT, Certified MDT, Shares Why It’s So Powerful

“The most compelling part of the McKenzie Method is that it allows the patient to take a more active role in managing their pain,” Megan Westman, DPT, Certified MDT, explains. “It provides the patients tools to prevent further pain as well as improve centralization and reduction of symptoms in between each PT visit.”

The McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (often referred to as the McKenzie Method or MDT) is an assessment process used for many musculoskeletal problems, including pain in the back, neck, and extremities, such as the shoulder, knee, and ankle. The MDT approach is one of the most researched and evidence-based treatment philosophies available in physical rehabilitation.

“It is not your typical protocol or cookie cutter treatment approach. It assesses the individual’s personal response to specific movements or activities and then creates a treatment program specific to their injury,” Scott Jones, PT, Director of Clinic Services and Partner, shares. “It is based on repeated or sustained movements in a specific direction of preference for the patient and progresses based on the cause-and-effect relationship demonstrated with those movements.”

Benefits of McKenzie Method

The McKenzie Method can be extremely effective for diagnosing and treating certain injuries. Benefits include:

  • Allows PTs to categorize and treat patients
  • Often gets the patient better quickly
  • Provides tools to teach the patient how to independently treat and manage their condition
  • Less pain between PT visits
  • Higher patient satisfaction
  • Ability to prevent future injuries

“The fun thing about the McKenzie Method is that if a patient does fall into the “derangement” category requiring repeated movements with a directional preference, they usually will see quick results,” Megan shares. “I’ve had many patients come back very happy on the second visit because their pain has significantly improved after just one visit.”

Benefits of McKenzie Method for Employers

Why is the McKenzie Method valuable for employers?

“The MDT approach works really well for both acute and chronic injuries and patients of all ages and abilities. In many situations the MDT approach can have a positive affect quickly, allowing the patient to return to work more efficiently,” Scott points out. “This saves the employer significantly on indemnity and indirect workers compensation costs. The patient is also educated and empowered to have greater control over their injury, leading to higher patient satisfaction.”

The McKenzie Method often allows employees to manage symptoms throughout the day, making it possible for them to work for longer periods of time.

“It also provides patients with the tools to continue to treat their own back once they have been discharged from therapy,” Megan explains. “They can use the education taught to improve body mechanics with job demands and help prevent future injuries.” 

Teaching the Patient How to Relieve Pain

Thanks to the tools the McKenzie Method provides, patients can independently assess and treat their condition, relieving pain in the short-term and preparing them for any future issues.

“We provide you with a lot of education regarding posture, body mechanics, and tools to help treat your back upon discharge,” Megan explains. “Don’t lose these instructions! Low back pain frequently reoccurs, and with that info people are often able to treat themselves and improve symptoms without needing to seek additional medical intervention.”

Our Investment in the McKenzie Method

Because the McKenzie Method is so effective, we’ve made it a priority to host and offer courses, and to host the 8-hour certification exam.

Not only is it beneficial for ARC Physical Therapy+ therapists to go through the entire process together and to have fellow clinicians to study and practice with during the process (it requires over 100 hours of training), it also makes for more efficient professional growth and a convenient path toward certification.

ARC Physical Therapy+ has 6 MDT certified clinicians and 9 who have taken the courses and are ready to sit for the credentialing exam.

To learn more about the McKenzie Method and to see if it’s right for you, contact your local ARC Physical Therapy+ clinic or call us at 844-755-4272(4ARC).

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