A Brief Guide to the Benefits of Manual Therapy
Updated: Jul 2
Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy that involves using hands-on techniques to treat conditions. It is also sometimes called manipulative therapy. Many people define this therapy as a “hands-on” approach. Manual therapy generally falls into two categories: Structural and Soft tissue
Structural manual therapy is used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain or neck pain. It involves manipulating the spine or other bones and joints. Soft tissue manual therapy is used to treat conditions that involve the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It involves massage and other techniques designed to stretch and relax the soft tissues.
Manual therapy can provide several benefits, including pain relief, increased joint mobility, better range of motion, and improved muscular flexibility. Some common techniques include joint mobilization, joint manipulation, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and positional release therapy.
Manual therapy can help modulate pain, increase joint mobility to stiff joints and range of motion, improve tissue repair, improve tissue stability and extensibility, reduce soft-tissue inflammation, reduce muscle tension, induce relaxation and facilitate movement and exercise therapy.
Studies Done On Manual Therapy
Several studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of manual therapy in treating various conditions. For example, a systematic review was conducted to assess the efficacy of manual therapy on pain, impact of disease, and quality of life in the treatment of fibromyalgia. The review found that current evidence of manual therapy in patients with fibromyalgia, based on a very low to moderate quality of evidence, was inconclusive and insufficient to support and recommend the use of manual therapy in this population.
Another systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to assess the effectiveness of manual therapy in improving carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) symptoms, physical function, and nerve conduction studies. The study found that manual therapy techniques based on soft tissue and neurodynamic mobilizations were effective in reducing pain, improving physical function, and improving nerve conduction studies in patients with CTS.
Defining the Common Ailments Treated by Manual Therapy
is an injury to a muscle or a tendon — the fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones. Minor injuries may only overstretch a muscle or tendon, while more severe injuries may involve partial or complete tears in these tissues. Symptoms of muscle strain include sudden onset of pain, soreness, limited range of movement, bruising or discoloration, swelling, a “knotted-up” feeling, muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness.
Pelvic Floor Disorder (PFD)
is a condition that occurs when the muscles or connective tissues of the pelvic area weaken or are injured. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form a sling across the base of the pelvis and support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum.
PFDs can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and can be caused by a variety of factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, aging, menopause, obesity, chronic constipation or coughing, and heavy lifting.
is a common condition that causes swelling and tenderness in one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. There are many different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatments.
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear-and-tear damage to the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones where they form a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, causing inflammation and swelling.
Usage of Terms
It’s important to note that in the United States, the terms Physical therapy and Physical therapist are used more. For Canada, on the other hand, Physiotherapy and Physiotherapist are generally more common terms. Whether you’re in either country, it’s important to understand that manual therapy should be performed by licensed practitioners to ensure the safety of each patient. In the United States, manual therapy is often performed alongside other rehab techniques like exercise or pain-relieving modalities. It can be helpful in addressing numerous different concerns, including pain, stiffness, or range of motion limitations.
There are a wide variety of different hands-on techniques included in this rehab category. Some of these techniques are soft tissue massage, joint manipulation, joint mobilization, friction massage, and passive stretching.
Manual therapy can be utilized for various purposes, including increasing the flexibility of a muscle, relaxing a muscle group, improving the range of motion at a joint, or decreasing your pain. Oftentimes, this treatment category is particularly valuable during the more acute phases of rehab when your movement may be more limited in a region and pain levels are traditionally higher.
Much like in the United States, manual therapy is a popular form of physical rehabilitation in Canada. There are several organizations in Canada that provide training and certification for manual therapy practitioners, including the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (CAMPT) and Integrative Movement & Manual Therapy (IMMT).
CAMPT-certified physiotherapists are Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT) that have completed post-graduate education and attained internationally-recognized qualifications in hands-on therapy. IMMT provides an evidence-based, holistic, client-centered treatment system for Physical Rehabilitation Professionals. They use an interdisciplinary approach, focusing on the use of palpation to optimize manual therapy interventions and better prescribe movement integrations.
Mental Impacts of Manual Therapy
Anxiety is a common and natural emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It is your body’s natural response to stress and can be characterized by feelings of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. For example, going to a job interview or giving a speech on the first day of school may cause some people to feel fearful and nervous.
However, when feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for at least 6 months, and interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety and help improve your quality of life. By teaching patients relaxation techniques and healthy coping mechanisms, physical therapy can reduce anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks. Exercise can be used to treat anxiety. It can release endorphins that have mood-enhancing effects1.
Physical therapists are in a position to help as well. They have been identified as professionals who can effectively deliver exercise interventions to help patients suffering from anxiety and depression. While manual therapy is often used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain or neck pain, it may also be useful for a range of conditions that don’t affect the bones, joints, or muscles.
For example, manual therapy and massage may improve the quality of life for some people with serious or long-term conditions by reducing levels of anxiety and improving sleep quality. This can ultimately reflect the mental well-being of an individual in the long run.
In conclusion, manual therapy can be a valuable tool in helping individuals improve their overall physical health and well-being. If you’re interested in experiencing the benefits of manual therapy for yourself, consider finding a qualified manual therapist near you.