Manual Therapy – Is it just manipulation?

by | Jan 29, 2019 | Treatment | 0 comments

manual therapy

Physical Therapists utilize a multifaceted approach which includes manual therapy and skills-based exercise to manage neuromusculoskeletal conditions.  Manual therapy is directed towards restoring joint function and tissue health.  It relies on a test/retest principle to assess soft-tissue and joint mobility and function.  The main premise being that tissue load problems such as MOD (misuse, overuse, disuse) cause imbalances throughout the neuromusculoskeletal system which may present as either weakness, instability or stiffness (WIS).  Manual therapists believe the human body is a healing machine.  Manual techniques are utilized to address WIS limits and trigger a healing effect which lead to positive adaptations in the nervous system with the end result being improved function, restored mobility and pain-relief.   

Chiropractic treatment involves manipulation but the approach is quite different from manual therapy.  Chiropractic care remains well rooted in the traditional art of manipulation for subluxations.  Chiropractic manipulation is directed towards correcting a joint malalignment or subluxation.  The main premise being that the joint is out of alignment or out of place causing a painful condition.  This type of treatment is a structural approach which utilizes manipulation as the primary tool to realign the joint system and facilitate pain relief. 

Physical therapy treatment has experienced a revolution blending science with the art of manual therapy.  Physical therapists use a systematic approach for treatment of joint restrictions, muscle dysfunction and nerve irritations recognizing that manipulation is important but not the only manual therapy tool effective for restoring mobility, strength, and balance to the neuromusculoskeletal system.  Manual therapy is directed towards improving joint and tissue health with respect to structure and function.  Rather than emphasizing realignment, manual therapy focuses on restoring normal joint mobility, tissue nutrition and muscle strength.  Manual therapy may include mobilization or manipulation of joints, dry needling of muscle trigger points, myofascial release, fascial manipulation, and nerve gliding.  Identifying the primary form of manual therapy is difficult, but one thing is sure, it’s not just manipulation.  In fact, it’s so much more, creating more opportunity to trigger healing and restore mobility, balance, and strength.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *