McKenzie Method

The McKenzie Method is an approach used to assess the severity of spine conditions, diagnose a specific condition, and determine an appropriate treatment plan. This method is often used to diagnose and treat lower back and neck pain. The McKenzie treatment method focuses on using physical therapy and exercises to extend the spine to provide significant pain relief, allowing individuals to return to their normal daily activities. Developed in the 1950s by New Zealand physical therapist, Robert McKenzie, this method is used world-wide and emphasizes active patient involvement and self-management in the treatment for spine related conditions.

The McKenzie Method focuses on the rehabilitation of conditions of the spine and is often accomplished in three steps. This method is accomplished by teaching patients to control and manage their symptoms and use preventative care.


A physical examination is performed on the patient and a medical history is reviewed. During the physical examination, patients may be asked to make different movements and extend or flex different muscles. Any underlying conditions are ruled out and the physician assesses the level of impairment to the spine and surrounding muscles.


Individualized exercises are prescribed to the patient. A physical therapist works with the patient to practice the exercises, which then can be performed at home. Most patients can successfully treat themselves at home. In severe cases, a physical therapist may spend more time with the patient until they are able to successfully complete the exercises on their own.


Patients that have learned how to self-treat their condition through stretching and exercise, also learn how to minimize the risk of recurrence. Self-maintenance is key in preventing recurrences of troubling symptoms.

Additional Resources