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McKenzie Method

McKenzie Method for Back and Neck Pain

This treatment philosophy was developed by Robin McKenzie in New Zealand, and is the most researched physical therapy method available for spinal pain. Also known as “Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy”, the method is founded on active patient involvement and education which ultimately empowers each individual to prevent recurrences long term. The method is effective with both acute and chronic back and neck pain and has three key components.


McKenzie trained therapists begin with a thorough history taking and testing of movements to identify distinct patterns of pain responses that pinpoint the underlying pain generator. This allows a clear mechanical diagnosis to be made for each patient and guides the most optimal treatment strategy.


While manual therapy techniques are used with the McKenzie method, the basis of the treatment takes advantage of the patient’s own movements and forces to abolish the pain and restore function. A series of individualized exercises are prescribed and, most critically, are based on the directional preference that will abolish the pain. In essence, the treatment must match the assessment findings or the results will be inferior.

Preventative Strategy

Most patients who do respond favorably to the McKenzie Method can successfully treat themselves and minimize the number of visits to the clinic when provided with the necessary knowledge and tools that put them in control of their treatment safely and effectively. By learning how to self-treat the current problem, patients gain hands-on knowledge on how to minimize the risk of recurrence and how to quickly manage themselves if symptoms do occur.

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)

All of the Therapists at Timberline Physical Therapy have training and extensive experience treating patients using the McKenzie method of treatment.

McKenzie Method Treatment | Timberline Physical Therapy