Knee Osteoarthritis Therapy

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“Efficacy of Exercise Intervention as Determined by the McKenzie System of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”


Total knee replacement surgeries are becoming more commonplace. Prior to surgery, many patients are prescribed Physical Therapy; if the therapy fails, they undergo surgery. This study investigated the use of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT, commonly known as the McKenzie system) for knee pain as compared to ‘standard’ methods of Physical Therapy.

How the study was performed

The practitioner using the McKenzie system aims to find one exercise, that’s specific to that person’s knee, which rapidly resolves the patient’s pain. Once this is determined, the patient repeatedly performs this one exercise at home. In this study, the McKenzie approach was compared to a group who did ‘standard’ – but evidence-based – therapy, along with a control group who did nothing.

What we learn from this research

Comparing the pain scores and the functional improvements for the three groups (ie. McKenzie, ‘standard’ PT, control), the McKenzie group had significant improvements over the other two at 2 week and 3 month follow-up. This suggests that

  1. McKenzie technique may be superior to ‘standard’ physical therapy, and
  2. patients awaiting total knee replacements may improve their pain and function scores with the McKenzie system.
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