4001 Lake Otis Pkwy, ste. 201
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Tel (907) 561-1711
email: IPTalaska@gmail.com
McKenzie Approach

MDTThe McKenzie Method is not merely extension exercises as many incorrectly believe. In its truest form, McKenzie is a comprehensive evaluation and treatment approach. It is an assessment tool, as well as a treatment. The principles can be used in the extremities (arms and legs) with the same outstanding results seen in the spine. It is based on sound principles and fundamentals that when understood and followed accordingly are very powerful. In fact, the most remarkable, but least appreciated aspect of the McKenzie approach is the assessment process. The McKenzie Method is based on a consistent "cause and effect" relationship between historical pain behavior and the pain response to repeated test movements, positions, and activities performed during the assessment process. The underlying problem can then be quickly identified. This process optimizes and specifies the actual treatment to be used in your recovery. In a 2014 study the findings revealed that patients with low back pain who were being treated by clinicians with McKenzie training had better functional outcomes and required less total visits to attain them (Deutscher, D. et al. 2014) then when treated with other methods.

The McKenzie classification system separates patients with apparently similar presentations (such as "Low back pain", or "Sciatica") into definable sub-groups (syndromes). Each distinct syndrome is treated according to it's unique nature. allowing the clinican to determine a patient specific treatment. This is part of what makes the system so effective as well as unique.

The Derangement syndrome where the phenomenon of "centralization" occurs is the most common. This is the cause of many patient's Sciatic and Low Back Pain. It is not uncommon to see large and rapid decreases in a patients pain during the evaluation process itself. That means a significant pain reduction the very first treatment day. The patient then can take that information home and use it to start feeling better from day one. This is commonly found for the extremity patients as well as the neck and back patients.

Well-trained McKenzie practitioners will be able to identify more difficult cases where advanced McKenzie techniques might benefit the patient, versus those patients whose diagnosis is non-mechanical in nature. Patients that will not respond are quickly referred for alternate care. This helps the patient avoid unnecessary periods of inappropriate or expensive management with failed treatment. McKenzie treatment is quite unique in that it emphasizes education and active patient involvement in the treatment. This can minimize the number of visits the patient will need. If a problem is more complex, self-treatment may not be possible right away. However, a McKenzie trained clinician will know when to provide additional advanced hands-on techniques until the patient can successfully manage the prescribed skills on their own. Ultimately, most patients can successfully treat themselves once provided the necessary knowledge and tools. An individualized self-treatment program tailored to the lifestyle of the patient puts the patient in control safely and effectively. This is an essential part of the treatment philosophy.

Preventive. Patients gain an education learning to self-treat the problem. The application of these skills and behaviors will minimize the risk of reoccurrence and allow patients to rapidly manage themselves if and when symptoms reoccur. The goal is to have the patient be independent in managing their own symptoms so that they no longer have to get "treated" by a clinician. They themselves will be armed with the education and proper exercises to manage the symptoms, independently.

At Integrative Physical Therapy we have staff Certified by the International McKenzie Institute to use this approach. The clinic director has earned a Diploma level of certification using the technique. This required an additional 660+ hours of training and 2 day exam going above and beyond the base postgraduate certification level of training. He is currently the only Diploma Level MDT certified clinician working in private outpatient PT practice within the state of Alaska.

Learn more about the system HERE.

Learn more about training and Job opportunities at IPT HERE.


Deutscher, D., et al. (2014). Physical Therapist' Level of McKenzie Education, Functional Outcomes, and Utilization in Patients With Low Back Pain. JOSPT, 44 (12) pp 925-936.

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