Physical Therapy
Sea Girt NJ
Physical Therapy & Acupuncture
HSS Rehabilitaiton Network Participating Location

McKenzie Approach

Spinal rehabilitation refers to correcting problems with your neck or back. It is a subspecialty of orthopedics. Because of the unique structure of the spine and special problems related to this area, specialized training is necessary to ensure appropriate treatment.

Because the majority of spinal problems are mechanical, relating to specific activities, postures, and habits of the patient's lifestyle, a mechanical solution is necessary. A thorough evaluation will be performed to identify movements, positions, and activities that both aggravate and relieve the condition.

Eighty percent of people have one or more significant episodes of neck or back pain at some time in their lives, many have several. The majority of spinal pain can be placed in one of three syndromes described by the McKenzie approach to spinal care. Each has a different method of resolution. The emphases of the program are:

  • Spend the necessary time to identify which of the syndromes apply to your type of spinal pain.
  • Teach the patient what they need to know to stop aggravating and start resolving their pain.
  • Emphasize the necessary self-treatment techniques for the prevention of future episodes of pain.

Postural Syndrome - The simplest of McKenzie's syndromes, this is caused by slouched postures that place stress on and cause pain to spinal ligaments and soft tissues. It usually occurs in children and treatment includes only one or two sessions that identify the syndrome and teach the patient its cause and how they will resolve it.

Dysfunction Syndrome - This occurs in patients with a long history of poor postures and body mechanics that have allowed them to develop stiffness in one or more directions of movement. Very often, occupations or recreational activities emphasize forward moving spinal movements but very little backward moving. So they become susceptible. Likewise, dysfunction syndrome can occur in any direction of movement avoidance, even beyond the spine. Since we keep what we use and lose what we don't, over the years we develop stiffness that eventually causes increased joint pressures and then pain. Our therapists determine the direction(s) of stiffness and teach the specific exercises necessary to restore normal movement and pressures. When needed, we also use special techniques to mobilize the necessary joint segments or stretch the shortened soft tissues with our hands.

Derangement Syndrome - Spinal derangement syndrome involves some level of damage to the discs of the spine. When therapy is begun early, there is usually no need for surgery. When there is pain below the elbow (neck injuries) or knee (low back injuries), particularly if it becomes constant, it is more serious and coming closer to requiring a surgical correction. The early warning signs are the inability to bring the head or back to an upright position, one-sided neck/arm pain or low back/leg pain. These injuries can be treated with specific positioning and special exercises taught by our therapists to restore the disc to its correct position. The patient is then limited in activities and postural movements for several days until the disc begins to heal in its corrected position. When appropriate, the therapist progresses the patient with other exercises that further strengthen the disc stability and muscular control of healthy spine postures. Patients are thrilled when they have learned how to control their pain instead of it controlling them, and are then able to prevent future episodes.