Integrating evidence into practice: use of McKenzie-based treatment for mechanical low back pain
Angela Dunsford1, Saravana Kumar1,2, Sarah Clarke1
1International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, 2School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Abstract: Low back pain (LBP) is a major health issue with significant socioeconomic implications in most Western countries. Many forms of treatment have been proposed and investigated in the past, with exercise being a commonly prescribed intervention. Within allied health, in particular physiotherapy, there has been a growing movement that recognizes the role of the McKenzie method in treating LBP. Within the McKenzie framework, directional preference (DP) exercises are one such intervention, with preliminary data demonstrating its effectiveness in the management of LBP. In this paper, we aim to integrate the evidence from current research, identified using a systematic review, and utilize a practical real-life case scenario to outline how evidence from the literature can be implemented in clinical practice. The findings from the systematic review indicate that DP exercises may have positive effects in the management of LBP. While the body of evidence to support this is limited (only four studies) and therefore modest at best, it does provide some emerging evidence to support the use of DP exercises in clinical practice. Despite this, gaps also persist in the literature on DP exercises, and this relates to the exercise parameters and the compliance rates. Recognizing this dichotomy (modest evidence in some areas and evidence gaps in other areas), which is likely to confront health practitioners, using a practical approach with a real-life clinical scenario, we outline how the evidence from the systematic review can be implemented in clinical practice. This approach builds on the philosophy of evidence-based practice of integrating research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.
Keywords: low back pain, McKenzie method, directional preference exercises
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