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When Back Pain Is Good and the McKenzie Method

PTD0214-LeadCan back pain ever be good? People suffering from backache would say, “No.” But some experts believe that back pain resulting from a process known as centralization can be a very good thing. Centralization means that pain originating in the back and traveling to the leg or the buttocks can be redirected to its actual source, the back. Here, the pain can usually be better tolerated by the patient and more successfully treated, even resolved.
To encourage centralization, the patient performs specific simple movements under our guidance. For example, an individual experiencing referred calf pain may report that, after repeatedly bending backward to the degree recommended by the therapist, the pain has moved from the calf to the back of the thigh. Often, continuing the movements will cause the pain to migrate even more, from the back of the thigh to the buttocks, then finally to the spine where, through repeated movements, it can eventually be controlled and eliminated.
The concept of centralization was developed more than 40 years ago by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist who discovered that pain that can be centralized is likely to be treatable, while pain that does not centralize may have a more serious cause and a poorer prognosis for recovery. The McKenzie Method is a system of pain assessment, treatment and prevention that relies on a patient’s performing guided exercise movements, such as bending forward or backward, or moving the leg in various directions, and reporting which movements cause pain or its relocation.
Some experts feel this approach is too subjective. They prefer the hard data of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or an x-ray scan. But studies have shown the McKenzie Method to be effective and, in many cases, more successful in treatment than reliance on some high-tech tests that sometimes result in false positives.
After evaluating your condition, we can design a program of exercises to strengthen the back, neck, buttocks or legs, and help relieve your pain. In addition, we can develop a prevention plan to maintain your back’s health.
Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Wyckoff, NJ provides orthopedic and sports physical therapy services for the greater Ridgewood, Wyckoff, and Bergen County region.  This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. The views expressed here are the author’s views and should be taken as suggestions. Always consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before engaging in a physical therapy or rehabilitative program.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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