The McKenzie Method assessment and treatment

How does The McKenzie Method (MDT) help to work out your problem quickly?

How does McKenzie Method or MDT (Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy) get you back to your best so quickly?  A McKenzie Method assessment and treatment is different – how?  What should I expect from A McKenzie Method session?  All of these questions are answered in this blog by Lisa Vernon, physiotherapist.

Having your problem assessed by someone who uses the McKenzie method is a bit different from ‘standard’ physiotherapy assessment.

It gives you (as the patient) and us (as the physio) a lot of really useful information.  This information can be used to help you get better quicker.  It allows you to be  more independently in a lot of cases, and back to doing what you love.

The great thing about the MDT is that it is suitable to any person, at any time, and at any stage of an injury.  The problem can be several days old or several decades old!

The main focus of MDT is that you (the client) are completely involved in the solution.

Robin McKenzie strongly believed that most patients can successfully treat themselves when provided with the necessary knowledge and tools.

These tools aren’t just random stretches or exercises.  They are targeted strategies that you respond to in the session and that make a change in real time.

The McKenzie Method (MDT) assessment involves 4 stages:


Step 1- Assessment

The first step is the physio asking about your symptoms and how they behave.

There are often patterns, sometimes a bit hidden, that help to work out the nature of the problem.

Then you will be asked to perform certain movements or to rest in certain positions.

Often with assessment, you are asked to do a single movement in each direction. The main difference to other systems is that the McKenzie assessment makes use of doing those movements a number of times.  The repeated movements are used to assess your symptom response which is really informative!.

The way that your pain changes when you are in certain positions or when you do certain repeated movements gives us loads of information to nut out your problem.


Step 2- Classification

The MDT is unique in that your physio is always able to categorise your problem into one of 4 subgroups.

There are three categories that really respond well to the right kind of management that a patient can be involved with.

The fourth category captures everything that doesn’t fall into the other three categories.  This includes problems that are following surgery, fracture, serious pathologies and problems that don’t respond to mechanical (physical) treatment.


Step 3: Treatment

After the assessment and your problem being categorised, the treatment plan is made.

In a lot of cases, the physio will give you specific exercises to help reduce your symptoms, improve your range of movement and get you going again.

They will also give advice on postures to adopt and those to temporarily avoid.

Some presentations require specific hands-on treatment by the therapist, but a lot of people are able to do plenty to help themselves too.

This idea allows MDT to be as effective as possible in the least number of sessions.

Treatment that you can perform five or six times a day is more likely to be effective in a shorter period of time.  Compare that to treatment administered by the clinician once or twice per week and it is easy to see how you can improve more rapidly.

What you do in between sessions can improve your pain beyond what the physio can do for you!


Step 4: Prevention

After you have learnt how to successfully manage your current problem, the next step is to find out how to minimise the risk of it happening again.

If you do start getting a repeat epsiode down the track, you then also have the tools to rapidly manage the symptoms yourself.

This allows you to be in control!


The McKenzie Method is the most researched and validated method of assessment and treatment in the world.  It is widely used across the globe, in particular in USA and Europe.  For even more information, check out the McKenzie Institute of Australia website at

If you are looking for a solution for your painful problem, then call us on 8356 1000 and have a chat with one of our physios.  You can also click here to organise a call back or a FREE 15 minute pre-assessment consult.  Alternatively, email us at

 We are proud of our McKenzie background.  We are the only clinic in Adelaide with listed Credentialled McKenzie Therapists on staff.