START THE WEEK OFF RIGHT: Patients can help with pain reduction using McKenzie methods

START THE WEEK OFF RIGHT: Patients can help with pain reduction using McKenzie methods


Physical therapy patients can play a “hands-on’’ role in their own recovery and pain control with the assistance of Abby Hovey, who recently earned MDT Certification from The McKenzie Institute® USA Center for Postgraduate Study in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® (MDT).

Hovey completed a series of postgraduate courses to become a certified practitioner of the McKenzie Method® of MDT, an evidence-based patient management system to eliminate back, neck and extremity pain in fewer visits compared to traditional treatment.

The key distinction is its initial assessment component to accurately reach a diagnosis that will guide an appropriate treatment plan. Rarely are expensive tests required. Certified MDT clinicians have a valid indicator to know right away whether — and how — the direction-specific exercise treatment will work for each patient.

As a physical therapist at the Genesis Spine and Joint Health Center in Bettendorf, and the only McKenzie-certified provider in the Quad-Cities, Hovey is trained to assess and diagnose all areas of the musculoskeletal system. An MDT evaluation of the spine or extremity may not only be appropriate, but may be an initial step to putting more control of treatment into the hands of patients.

Empowering patients

Robin McKenzie, who founded the McKenzie Method, believed that certain movements and postures could often abolish pain and restore function. Also, McKenzie believed most patients could be empowered to treat themselves, requiring fewer medical interventions and fewer physical therapy sessions.

Hovey said patients begin with a MDT evaluation, typically 40 minutes in length.

“We’ll talk about the behavior of their symptoms and take the time to understand their unique history. Often, only one exercise is prescribed on the first visit to aid in a clear understanding of the patient’s mechanical and symptom response related to that exercise,’’ Hovey explained. “Patients will be educated on postures, positions, and activities to temporarily avoid to aid in their recovery.

“If their condition has a more difficult mechanical presentation, patients may need a hands-on intervention until they can self-manage their pain. The goal is to assess and treat their condition effectively and efficiently.”

Patients help treat themselves

Hovey said treatment performed by the patient several times each day is more likely to provide relief than treatment provided in a clinic once or twice per week. The emphasis of the McKenzie method is to encourage the patient to be actively involved in their own care. This can also minimize the number of clinic visits required.

“Most patients can successfully treat themselves when presented with the appropriate knowledge and tools,’’ Hovey said. “The McKenzie Method promotes the body’s remarkable ability to heal itself without medication, surgery or passive modalities such as heat, ice, or ultrasound therapy.”

Hovey said that once the patient has learned to treat themselves with specific movements and postures, often the same procedures can be used to prevent recurrence. This is key as research demonstrates spinal pain has a tendency to recur. The importance of preventing recurrence is more important than supplying short-term relief through passive treatments.

One of Hovey’s patients is Nate Bauer, who was reluctant to have back surgery to treat his pain.

“I was worried surgery was my only long-term option,’’ Bauer said. “Abby was able to give me the tools I needed to avoid surgery and get back to work without limitations.

“Not only did the treatment help with pain, I was given new tools to use with every visit. I now have the skills necessary to maintain my flexibility and prevent future injuries from occurring.’’

Hovey’s patients have experienced positive results by participating personally in their treatment.

“I had pretty bad chronic shoulder and neck pain. Abby helped it become totally manageable,’’ said Andi Zanki, another of Hovey’s patients. “No painkillers or medication were needed. The exercises were really easy, and made an immediate difference. I can go about my daily life pain-free and instantly manage the pain in the rare instance that it arises.”

Hovey joined Genesis in 2010. She graduated from Luther College with a bachelor's degree in biology and health in 2005 and received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Iowa in 2007. Hovey specializes in treating various orthopedic conditions.

Call 563-421-3555 to learn more about the method and set up an appointment for an MDT assessment.


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