What Does Manual Therapy Really Mean?

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Suffering from muscle, joint or tissue problems can be painful and compromise mobility. Many people are discovering the healing benefits of using manual therapy. Consider that one of the most vital factors involved in physical recovery is human touch. That’s why this therapy is exceptionally effective in helping people feel better.

If you’re suffering from orthopedic problems, perhaps you’ve heard of this specialized therapy, but maybe you don’t know what is actually involved or how it can help you. Here are some of the many benefits of this therapy, along with a few considerations and warnings.

What’s Involved

This therapy, which is done by physical therapists, is a specific type of physical therapy. It’s used for both diagnosing and treating joint and soft tissue structures.

Instead of using machines or devices, practitioners use their hands to apply pressure on muscle tissue and maneuver joints so that back pain from muscle tension, muscle spasm and joint dysfunction is decreased or even relieved.

Why Manual Therapy is Important

There are several reasons why this therapy is critical in the healing process. One of the main benefits is that patients receive individual treatments that are specific to their needs. While some people need more hands-on work and less exercise, other patients require more exercise than hands-on treatments. The type of treatment that’s used can also depend on an individual, the kind of injury and the specific goals of a patient.

This type of therapy improves joint performance and reduces inflammation, besides increases range of motion. Additionally, it reduces muscle tension.

Another perk is that recovery is much quicker than what’s involved in other therapies. As a result, patients can return to work and resume their normal activities in less time. It’s also cost-effective as patients don’t have as many out-of-pocket expenses.

Furthermore, therapists teach patients how to do specific exercises at home to continue the healing process after a muscle or joint problem has been stabilized. This is important in reducing the likelihood of problems resurfacing.

Primary Components of a Manual Therapy Treatment

A typical treatment consists of two main parts: mobilization and manipulation. The main purpose of soft tissue mobilization is to break up scar tissue. Soft tissue mobilization also relaxes muscle tension and moves tissue fluids.

Manipulation entails slower movements. Basically, it involves the loosening up of restricted joints so that range of motion is increased. It’s often used on people suffering from pulled muscles. These are patients who have failed to find relief from icing treatments and rest. Although these home treatments can reduce discomfort, the pain usually returns because a joint is restricted.

A therapist may use other types of hands-on methods. These techniques may include those, such as stretches, massages, deep pressure and nerve mobilization. What’s more, movement pattern can be improved by using therapeutic methods, including core stabilization and motor control training.

People Who Can Benefit

This therapy helps in the treatment of just about any type of neuro-musculoskeletal condition. For example, patients suffering from acute back and neck pain, sprains and strains are good candidates. It’s useful in treating fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, certain circulatory problems, stress, asthma, arthritis and pregnancy-related issues. It’s even been used to treat the slow development of premature infants.

Moreover, it helps in treating multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and spinal cord injuries. It can relieve discomfort from sciatica, frozen shoulder, TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), other jaw problems, whiplash and many other types of injuries.

Considerations and Warnings

• Because manual therapy isn’t as well known as other types of physical therapy methods, it’s not practiced by all physical therapists. Unfortunately, many physical therapists don’t invest in the resources or time needed in order to become effective in this particular area.

• Although physical therapy can strengthen the superficial muscles, the smaller muscles that help to stabilize the spine can be neglected if manual therapy is not part of a treatment plan.

• Patients still have to do their part in putting in the effort that’s needed for healing to occur even though their manual therapists do everything possible to facilitate the healing process.

• When the therapy is combined with education and exercise, patients recover faster.

• In the United States, most manual therapy programs involve four years of extensive training, along with taking post-graduate programs. Besides classroom education, these programs include a significant amount hands-on clinical training and passing comprehensive exams.

You don’t have to continue to suffer from orthopedic pain. If simple exercises, bed rest and using cold packs have been ineffective, consider the advantages that this type of therapy has to offer. To learn more about how a therapist can help you, please contact us and set up an appointment.

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