Today, many Physical Therapists approach the restoration of physical function for their patients from a different perspective. They are interested in why a muscle isn’t functioning properly and use Manual Physical Therapy to restore function and decrease pain.
Manual physical therapy (or manual therapy) is a specialized form of hands-on mobilization technique, as opposed to the application of devices, equipment or machinery.
Manual Therapy can be helpful for the treatment of joints that lack adequate mobility and range of motion in certain musculo-skeletal conditions. This limitation can cause discomfort, pain, and an alteration in function, posture, and movement. Manual Therapy involves restoring mobility to stiff joints and reducing muscle tension in order to return the patient to more natural movement without pain.
Manual Therapy techniques are aimed at relaxing tense muscles and restricted joints in order to decrease pain and increase flexibility. In general, manual physical therapy techniques employ the following types of movement:
- Soft tissue work, including massage, which applies pressure to the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles. This pressure can help relax muscles, increase circulation, break up scar tissue, and ease pain in the soft tissues.
- Mobilization/manipulation, which uses measured movements of varying speed (slow to fast), force (gentle to forceful), and distances (called amplitude) to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint, reduce pain in a joint and surrounding tissue, and help with flexibility and alignment.