Manual Therapy by a Physical Therapist: What You Should Know
Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy encompassing hands-on techniques. Used to decrease pain and improve range of motion and flexibility, manual therapy benefits stiff joints and muscles in any part of the body.
Manual therapy is typically used in conjunction with traditional physical therapy techniques. Instead of using a machine or device, with manual therapy your physical therapist uses their hands to manipulate joints of the body and/or apply pressure on muscle tissue.
What Does Manual Therapy Address?
Based on careful examination of your movement patterns, manual physical therapy addresses range of motion issues and the subsequent overcompensation that can interfere with your healing process.
Also known as manipulative therapy or orthopaedic manual therapy, this type of physical therapy includes:
- Soft tissue techniques
- Muscle stretching
Mobilization and manipulation work to restore the power of movement to joints and associated muscles. Mobilization may involve sustained pressure or a rhythmic oscillation applied to affected joints, while manipulation involves a high velocity, low amplitude thrust applied to a specific joint.
Manipulation is utilized when joint mobilization is no longer effective. With manipulation, there is sometimes a popping sound within the joint, which is simply gas releasing from the joint space.
Soft tissue techniques can include trigger point therapy, deep tissue massage, etc. These techniques apply pressure to the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This pressure works to relax muscles, break up scar tissue adhesions, increase circulation and alleviate pain.
Effective for both acute and chronic pain, manual therapy provides the most optimal benefit when used in conjunction with other therapies including ice, heat, ultrasound, interferential therapy (ICF), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and/or exercise prescription.
Who Should Receive Manual Therapy?
A wide variety of patients can benefit from manual physical therapy. Research supports manual physical therapy in combination with therapeutic exercise can produce significant (and rapid) pain relief and improved function for many conditions. Included among those conditions:
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Hip and Knee pain/osteoarthritis
- Shoulder pain
- Muscle tension headaches
- Thoracic spine pain
If you suffer from acute or chronic pain and are looking for relief, the therapists at Oklahoma Hand and Physical Therapy can help. Research shows that the most effective physical therapy treatments involve a combination of customized manual therapy and targeted exercise. Manual therapy as a part of your treatment plan can help to optimize your recovery, and that’s always our goal at Oklahoma Hand and PT!