Manual therapy is a physical therapy technique that involves the therapists physically manipulating your muscles and joints with their hands. It can help to relieve tension in your soft tissue, reduce inflammation, and mobilize your joints. When used as part of a larger physical therapy treatment plan, manual therapy can help to provide long-term pain relief.
Manual therapy can be used to treat any injury or disease that causes swelling or inflammation. Our physical therapists perform manual therapy at our clinics around the country.
Manual Therapy Techniques
There are several different types of manual therapy. Here are just a few examples:
- Joint mobilization — Joint mobilization helps to restore function in joints that have tightened up due to an injury or pain. Your physical therapist will coax slow movements out of your joints to reduce stiffness and improve their mobility.
- Strain-counterstrain — This manual therapy technique helps to relieve spasms that create painful, tender spots in your body. Your therapist will help you stretch your body in a way that can help to alleviate chronic pain symptoms.
- Soft tissue mobilization — Soft tissue mobilization can help to relieve muscle tension and break up scar tissue. Even a few short sessions can contribute to pain relief.
- High-velocity, low-amplitude thrusting — This technique helps increase flexibility in the joints by stretching them almost to their limits. With more range of motion in your joints, you'll find it easier to move around without pain.
- IASTM — Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a type of manual therapy involving contoured steel rods, which your therapist will use to get more leverage to break up tense muscle fibers.
What to Expect During Treatment
Your physical therapist may use various manual therapy techniques as part of your treatment plan. They will start by assessing your symptoms and determining the root cause of your pain. They may ask you to demonstrate specific movements to understand your pain threshold and how your injury affects your body mechanics. Then, they'll build a customized treatment plan.
Your treatment plan may include several different manual therapy techniques, but it might also include other physical therapy techniques, such as:
Targeted stretching — Stretching can effectively relieve muscle tension so you can move more comfortably. Often, physical therapists start to work on stretching after they've used manual therapy to break the patient's scar tissue and mobilize the muscles and ligaments.
Exercises — Exercise can help to strengthen the muscles and promote healing in injured or inflamed body parts. This also typically occurs after manual therapy techniques have been applied.
Ergonomic screenings — Your physical therapist will likely assess your posture and body mechanics to identify and correct any habits that could lead to future injuries. They may also recommend modifying your furniture or workplace equipment to reduce the risk of injury.
Aquatic therapy — If your pain symptoms are so severe that they make it hard for you to exercise on the ground, your specialist may recommend aquatic therapy. This therapy takes place in a small swimming pool, which allows you to exercise without gravity putting pressure on your body.
If you're experiencing chronic pain symptoms or think manual therapy could help you, schedule an appointment at an Alliance physical therapy clinic near you today.