Taking Treatment Into Your Own Hands – The McKenzie Method

McKenzie Method

If you’re suffering from an achy neck or back, leg or arm pain, numbness or tingling, you’re not alone. Have you been diagnosed with sciatica, sacroiliac joint pain, arthritis, or degenerative disc disease? Would you like to know how to alleviate your pain? There are several treatment options available, but a globally recognized approach known as the McKenzie Method not only treats your pain but helps you prevent future flare-ups.

What is the McKenzie Method?

Physical therapists who practice the McKenzie Method have to go through additional training and credentialing. A certified McKenzie practitioner is trained in the examination and evaluation for acute, subacute, and chronic conditions of the spine and the extremities. In order to become certified, a practitioner must complete four courses and pass the Institute’s written and practical credentialing examination.

The method was developed by Robin McKenzie in the 1950s, a physical therapist in New Zealand. According to the McKenzie Institute of USA, “this well-researched, exercise-based approach of assessment, diagnosis and treatment uses a comprehensive and clinically reasoned evaluation of patients without the use of expensive diagnostic imaging (x-rays and MRIs).” In his practice he found that extending the spine could help “centralize” the patient’s pain by moving it away from the body’s extremities.

One difference between the McKenzie Method and traditional forms of physical therapy is the emphasis on having patients involved in self-management. “A main focus is teaching patients how to treat themselves to reduce dependency on medical intervention” said Megan L. Buckley, PT, DPT, MS, of TPMG Physical Therapy. “The McKenzie Method empowers patients to manage their pain as well as education to prevent future episodes.”

When Should You Get Help? What Are the Benefits?

At the first sign of back, leg, or arm pain, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you can make an appointment with a physical therapist. Additionally, you can ask your primary care physician, who may refer you to a McKenzie Method certified physical therapist like TPMG Physical Therapist, Megan Buckley, PT, DPT, MS. The sooner you can receive treatment, the quicker the recovery process can be. There is a high recurrence rate for spinal conditions, and patients who receive this treatment method learn preventive measures to take to minimize future episodes. A few exercises a day that do not take a lot of time or special equipment can help to minimize or prevent conditions from reoccurring or worsening.


Most commonly the McKenzie Method addresses spinal conditions. More recently, the method has expanded to include treatment of common extremity issues related to the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and ankle.

McKenzie Method Goals

  • Eliminate symptoms
  • Restore full mobility
  • Give the patient self-treatment tools
  • Prevent and maintain future conditions
Williamsburg Physical Therapist

About Megan Buckley, PT, DPT, MS

Megan Buckley, PT, DPT, MS, is certified through the McKenzie Institute in the McKenzie Method. She has been practicing in outpatient orthopedics for 22 years with an emphasis on spinal treatment. Megan provides an individualized, comprehensive plan of care to her patients, as well as education and treatment in a warm and compassionate style.

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