Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, or the McKenzie Method, is a treatment approach for spinal related disorders that looks at the cause and effect relationship between movement and pain response. Thoroughly researched, it has become the hallmark treatment in managing neck and back pain with both central spine and referred pain into the extremities. Emphasized in the treatment are a low number of treatments and transitioning to self management for long term prevention.
The key distinction in MDT is the use of Mechanical (Movement) assessment component. MDT trained therapists take a thorough history and safely progress patients through a series of movements and loading strategies looking for a direct cause and effect relationship regarding pain and movement. When a patient responds to mechanical treatment the patterns are reproducible, objective, reliable and reflect the characteristics of the underlying pain generator.
The most common and meaningful pattern of pain response is Centralization. Centralization occurs when a patient’s referred or radiating pain (into the extremities or away from the spine) reverses and returns to the spine or abolishes completely. Whether acute or chronic, pain that centralizes via a step by step movement assessment process indicates good outcomes are favorable.
Through the initial evaluation process, your therapist will determine a mechanical diagnosis dependent on your response to the movement strategies. Prescribed treatments include movements that have a direct effect on reducing pain and increasing movement creating a powerful tool that allows patient to take control of their own pain. You will both learn the expected outcome and frequency of exercise prescription quickly.
Patients who respond favorable to MDT can successfully treat themselves and minimize the number of visits to the clinic. 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 manage if symptoms do occur. Achievable goals are to reduce pain and increase movement, maintain pain reduction with education and postural advice, restore full function and prevent recurrence.