Manual therapy is any hands-on treatment performed by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, or osteopath. The therapy can address both soft tissue and joint movement. It is performed to decrease address and decrease both acute and chronic pain.
Manual therapy can be used to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the joint and soft tissue structures. It can reduce inflammation, reduce tension, and promote relaxation.
There are several types of manual therapy. Mobilization and manipulation are terms that are often used interchangeably. The technique uses passive movements on the joints or soft tissues, applied at varying speeds and intensity. Manipulation can be performed on a very specific area, or can be applied to a more general and larger region of the body. Soft tissue work can increase circulation and even break up scar tissue to promote healing. Strain-counterstrain is a method that is thought to be very comfortable and is an indirect technique that uses positioning to leverage the movement. Myofascial release (MFR) is another form of manual therapy using massage to break up tension in the muscle.
Manual therapy can help mobilize restricted joints, lessen muscle spasms, reduce swelling, and stretch tense muscles. The methods promote healing and relaxation.