What is Manual Therapy?
Manual therapy is a safe, effective and non-invasive treatment method that is used by physical therapists, massage therapists, and athletic trainers. Typically, patients visit a manual therapist when they are experiencing musculoskeletal pain. During treatment, your physical therapist may work to relieve pain with joint manipulation, manipulation of the muscles, joint mobilization and kneading. Through this type of physical therapy, our highly-trained and experienced manual therapist is able to implement a hands-on approach to healing that is designed to help manage chronic pain, increase your range of motion, reduce inflammation, treat joint structures and promote faster healing. If you or a loved one is experiencing musculoskeletal pain, contact our offices today to learn more about the benefits of manual therapy.
Types of Manual Therapy
One of the most common reasons for a physical therapy visit includes pulled muscles. Although many people rely on lots of rest to temporarily relieve the pain associated with a pulled muscle, it is likely that the pain will return without the help of targeted manual therapy. This is because the actual injury is most often caused by a restricted joint. With the joint mobilization technique, our physical therapist works to loosen up restricted joints with increased amplitude and the application of slow velocity. This safe, effective and painless manual therapy treatment also helps to apply movement to the barrier of the joint and increase range of motion.
Soft Tissue Mobilization
This technique is used by manual therapists to break up fibrous muscle tissue. Utilizing deep pressure movements and targeted rhythmic stretching, our experienced manual therapist is able to localize areas in the body that have the greatest tissue restriction and mobilize the area using specific techniques, including the Graston technique.
High Velocity, Low Amplitude
This is generally considered to be a more aggressive approach to manual therapy that is designed to relieve chronic pain and restore range of motion by bringing a joint to the restrictive barrier and thrusting it. The high velocity, low amplitude thrusting technique is ideal for restoring joint motion without pushing the joint beyond its normal anatomical limit. While considered to be a more aggressive form of physical therapy, this technique is still completely safe and pain-free.
This manual therapy method is designed to address any abnormal neuromuscular reflexes in the body that may result in both postural and structural issues. During treatment, our physical therapist works to locate the area of discomfort and holds that position for around 90 seconds. While in the hold position, our physical therapist is able to introduce an asymptomatic strain is with stretching. As you are brought of the hold position, your muscles are then able to reset and begin the healing process. This gentle technique is safe for patients of all ages but is most often applied to relieve back pain issues.
Muscle Energy Techniques (METs)
This popular treatment method is used to help lengthen any muscles in the body that are shortened and mobilize any restricted joints that are causing pain. During treatment, the muscles are safely contracted using a controlled counterforce that our physical therapist works to apply in a specific direction. Once contracted, the joint is taken to its new barrier, resulting in almost instant pain relief. This active procedure is also pain-free and requires patient participation to get the best results.
How is Manual Therapy an Effective Part of Physical Therapy?
Before our physical therapist begins manual therapy treatment, a full assessment of your blood and supply is completed in addition to a comprehensive muscle and bone assessment. From there, the best type of treatment to fit your individual needs will be implemented in the hopes of achieving fast pain-relief. Manual therapy is ideal to help increase blood flow, reduce chronic pain, restore full range of motion and achieve an optimal level of overall wellness. This integral part of physical therapy treatment is safe, non-invasive and ideal for treating patients of all ages.
Our physical therapists are highly trained in diagnosing and treating movement disorders. These disorders often occur following surgery, especially if a patient has undergone total joint replacement. However, many physicians will also prescribe physical therapy treatments for injuries, accidents, or illnesses – essentially, anything that makes you feel weak and unable to function at your normal physical levels.
Your treatment plan will likely include several different therapies, all aimed at helping a specific function of your body. Some exercises may focus on improving your balance and strength, while others may focus on increasing your range of motion. Manual therapy is a crucial part of a treatment plan, as it helps to reduce pain and swelling, minimize inflammation, and increase range of motion.
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Within the scope of physical therapy practice, joint mobilization and manipulation are appropriate if the physical therapist has undergone adequate training in the techniques. Joint mobilization passively (or with some active assist from the patient) moves a joint to increase or normalize motion and function. Joint manipulation is typically a high-velocity, low amplitude thrust which may cause an audible “cavitation” or “pop” of the joint being moved. The applied force at the joint causes a brief separation of the joint surfaces, which results in a reduction of pressure within the joint cavity. The resultant gases escaping the joint cause the popping noise. It is a very safe and effective technique, but it is not appropriate for every joint or every person.
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I struggled with rotator cuff issues and an impingement in my groin that I tried to self-treat. After seeing an orthopedist they recommended Empower Physical Therapy. They took the time to find the right diagnosis and then keep reassessing. Additionally, they use a unique combination of manual therapy as well more traditional rehab exercises. As a result I’ve seen consistent improvement over the past couple months as evidenced by reduced pain and increased range of motion and have been able to slowly start getting back into Olympic lifting. Still have a ways to go but Sara has been great to work with and I’m sure I’ll continue to see improvement.
Empower Physical Therapy is my “go-to” resource for any PT issues. I have worked with Julie and Brett on various issues and their exceptional knowledge of body mechanics transcends my past experience with physical therapists. They have been able to accurately isolate and get to the root of any issues and have developed manual therapy and exercise solutions that have succeeded in fully resolving the issue at hand.