Manual Therapy and its Importance in Physical Therapy

What is manual therapy? Why is it an important form of Physical Therapy?

Manual therapy is defined as the skilled passive movement of joints and soft tissues to treat musculoskeletal pain and disability; it most commonly includes kneading and manipulation of muscles, joint mobilization and joint manipulation. Manual therapy is just one type of physical therapy Red Canyon offers from our two offices in Frederick, Maryland.

Manual physical therapists are concerned with normalizing arthrokinematics, or specific motions that take place between joint surfaces that allow for normal joint mobility. Physical therapists employing these techniques will consider not only that a joint has limited mobility but also how limited the joint mobility is and in what direction.

Using specific hands-on techniques, skilled therapists utilize muscle release techniques in tight muscles and move the joint back into place. In essence, you KNOW you are receiving manual therapy when your joint and muscles are being touched and moved. Typically, muscles that need to be strengthened are now in a better position to exert equal force through the newly aligned joint so specific exercises are prescribed.

The reason that manual therapy is an important form of physical therapy is that excessive movement can cause muscular imbalance. Over time, muscular imbalance can cause joints to fall out of alignment. Strengthening exercises through a joint that is not aligned does not always provide enough force to re-align the joint. By using proper re-aligning techniques using manual therapy from a qualified specialist with strengthening exercises, the root cause of joint pain can be permanently solved not temporarily relieved.