what is manual therapy?

Manual therapy (MT) is a type of therapy under which many treatment techniques are used. MT is used in conjunction with other aspects of treatment; as described by the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT), “early, consistent, skillful manual physical therapy combined with exercise and patient education are central to Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (OMPT)”. 

Many studies have been completed on the positive outcomes of manual therapy, but what exactly is it? 

Manual Therapy is a discipline that developed in parallel with many world cultures – there are representations of MT found in the ruins of ancient civilizations in countries like Egypt, China, and India. Today, there are many interpretations and schools of thought within the practice of MT, and it is practiced in a wide variety of professions. We will discuss its use in the areas of physical and occupational therapy. 

Common Techniques

MT is often discussed with the focus on the “manual” part of Manual Therapy – which is the pressure applied by the practitioner to the target area. During some manipulations, or high velocity, small amplitude techniques, used in manual therapy – changes occur to the tissue and neurovascular systems. Three of the commonly-used techniques in this specialized, hands-on treatment are:

  • Joint-biased: targets articular structures
  • Muscle and Connective Tissue-biased: applies manual stress to the tissues
  • Neurovascular-biased: with focus on the neurovascular (nerves and blood vessels) system, places stress on neurovascular bundles

Pain Management article posted on NIH/NLM’s PubMed Central® details “[manual therapy] is utilized with the intent to create beneficial changes in some aspect of the patient pain experience”.  As such, a Plan of Care that includes Manual Therapy may also include movement re-education, stimulation machines, and other therapeutic exercises.

the benefits

The benefits to approaching treatment with the whole body in mind using Manual Therapy techniques include, but are not limited to:

  • Improvements in tissue extensibility
  • Increased range of motion
  • Induced relaxation
  • Mobilization of soft tissue and joints
  • Modulation pain
  • Reduction in swelling and mobility restrictions

Manual therapy at apple

Apple Therapists are certified in a wide variety of manual therapy techniques. Here’s a list of MT modalities used at Apple Therapy: