Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to have a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist?
In Ontario you do not require a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist - you can access them directly. However, some insurers do not reimburse for physiotherapy services unless you have a doctor’s referral, so check with your insurance company to confirm their policy.
Do you accept patients with WSIB or motor vehicle accident (MVA) claims?
Yes, we do accept patients with confirmed claim numbers for WSIB and motor vehicle accidents. Please bring all relevant documentation relating to your claim to your first appointment so we can begin the approval process for therapy.
How long are the appointments?
This may vary from patient to patient but typically the initial assessment lasts for an hour so the physiotherapist can complete a full history and physical examination and inform you of the appropriate plan. Follow-up appointments typically last between 30-45 minutes, again depending on the nature of your condition and your progress.
What conditions do you treat?
We see patients with orthopaedic conditions affecting all areas of the body, including but not limited to:
- sprains and strains
- low back pain
- neck pain
- spinal stenosis
- sports injuries
- sacroiliac joint problems
- post-operative conditions
- tendinopathies (ie. Achilles, rotator cuff)
- muscle injuries
How many exercises will I need to do?
This will depend on the nature of your injury or condition - each patient’s management is customized specifically for them. Fortunately, for a majority of cases only 1-2 exercises are required to see improvement. You will not be handed a sheet with a long list of exercises to complete every day. We find the best results are often achieved when the management plan is kept simple and directed at the cause of your problem as opposed to managing the symptoms themselves.
I’ve tried McKenzie exercises before and they didn’t work for me. Are you still going to be able to help me?
This is a common misperception surrounding the McKenzie Method - it is not an exercise or a series of exercises. It is a clinical assessment system designed to determine what the source of your symptoms is and what can be done to manage them. While a majority of patients do respond to treatment, the trained practitioner will be able to detect non-responding patients as well and direct them to the appropriate healthcare professional.
A common scenario expressed by patients is they attended a facility or practitioner that claimed to “do McKenzie”. However, upon further questioning, what patients describe does not resemble the structured approach inherent to the system. Axis Physiotherapy is the only Certified McKenzie Clinic in Ontario, and as such we are committed to the principles of the system. We will ensure you will be given a thorough assessment and attentive treatment.
What kind of treatment will I be getting?
The treatment you receive will entirely depend on the results of the assessment. The McKenzie Method is also known as Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy; once your mechanical diagnosis has been made, a mechanical treatment will be delivered. Most of the time this will involve you performing a specific prescribed exercise independently - many patients can treat themselves effectively once they are shown the proper regimen. Some patients may require additional hands-on therapy to enhance the response to the home exercise program.
Treatment is active in nature. Patients are shown how to perform their exercises effectively on their own. We do not rely on the use of modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation. Once your condition is stable you will be shown how to recover lost function, such as recovering your ability to lift after resolving lower back pain.
How long does it take to see results with this approach?
A large group of patients can be classified as “rapid responders”, with some seeing results as early as the initial assessment but commonly over the first several days. Some patients can resolve their condition completely in 2-3 weeks. Other patients who may be classified as “slow responders” may take several weeks to several months to respond to treatment. If we do not see results with this approach then you may be classified as a non-responder and referred to another healthcare professional who may be able to help you.
Does McKenzie work for the extremities?
Yes! The McKenzie Method has been perceived by some to be primarily a spinal assessment and treatment system, but it can be applied just as easily to extremity problems. Just as in the spine, we use repeated movements and/or positions to classify the problem and direct the appropriate treatment. A large subgroup of extremity patients would be considered “rapid responders” where with the correct targeted movements they can resolve their symptoms.
Is the McKenzie Method safe?
The system is unique in that it is designed for safety with its “progression of forces” concept. The least amount of force necessary to yield a response is desired. Patient-generated forces (ie. movements that you can perform on your own) are attempted first, and if there is no response, force is added in a structured fashion. The symptomatic response to movement and position is a cornerstone of the Method and if a worsening of pain is observed then no further pursuit of that force is indicated. Only if your pain has not worsened or has not progressed with independent exercises will hands-on techniques be considered.
Does the McKenzie Method involve hands-on therapy?
In some cases, yes. The system is designed such that we exhaust patient-generated forces first - your own movements are used to see if we can bring about some improvement. Only if you do not see any change with these movements, or you reach a plateau with them, will we consider hands-on techniques to further along your progress. Since the system preaches patient independence, we want to get you back to doing your own exercises as quickly as possible.
I’ve had previous therapies in the past that didn’t help me. What is different about your approach?
Rather than focusing on treating your symptoms which can result in short-term relief but no long-term change, our goal is to understand your problem thoroughly. It can sometimes take several sessions to fully understand someone’s condition. Once we understand the nature of your problem, we can deliver the proper treatment to you. Much like a good doctor would prescribe the proper medication only after performing the appropriate tests and making an informed diagnosis, we do not want to rush into treatment before we know what we are dealing with.