Herniated Discs May Respond to the Mckenzie Method of Therapy

By: Sandra McFaul

Back and leg pain are a common occurrence. Over 80% of the population suffers with back pain at least once during their lifetime. The problem is that once it has happened once, it typically returns. As time progresses, the episodes of pain typically are more painful with the pain spreading further into the leg. The progression of pain can then result in sciatica which is caused by a herniated disc pressing on a nerve that runs into the leg. This is usually very painful and often causes pins and needles, numbness or even weakness of certain muscle groups in the leg.

With back pain and leg pain being as prevalent as a common cold it would make sense if we were all taught the basic first aid or self-help treatment for back pain. We all know what to do if we have a cold, why should it be any different with back and referred leg pain.

The McKenzie Method of therapy, developed by New Zealand Physiotherapist Robin McKenzie in the 1950’s is a system of treatment or management that does just that. Therapists undergo specialist training in the McKenzie Method with 2 levels of training possible.

1. Credentialed or basic level

2. Advanced or Diploma level


Any musculoskeletal pain can be assessed and treated by a McKenzie therapist, however as McKenzie originally developed the method when he was treating a patient with back pain, this method is known world-wide for “treating backs.”

Patients undergo a McKenzie mechanical assessment. They are classified according to how they respond to different movements and positions and given specific exercises according to their classification. It is not a generic exercise approach but the exercises are tailored according to each individual.

If a patient does not have a “mechanical problem” – i.e. related to the bones, joints, muscles or discs; the McKenzie therapist is able to determine this within 2-3 sessions. This means further tests or investigations will be necessary to determine the source of the problem.


The good news is that the majority (>80%) do have a mechanical problem and they do respond to this active approach that empowers the patient to take control of their problem. It is step by step logical system and it helps people not only with back pain but those , sciatica and even stenosis.

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