What Is Manual Therapy?

Orthopedic physical therapists are trained in the management and treatment of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. When you come in for your physical therapy evaluation, a physical therapist will formulate a plan of care based on examination findings, which address impairments and functional limitations. Within this plan of care, treatment may include supervised therapeutic exercises, gait training, transfer training, and manual therapy.

But you may ask, what is manual therapy?

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has defined manual therapy techniques as “skilled hand movements and skilled passive movements of joints and soft tissue and are intended to improve tissue extensibility; increase range of motion; induce relaxation; mobilize or manipulate soft tissue and joints; modulate pain; reduce soft tissue swelling or restriction.”

Manual techniques that physical therapists may utilize include various graded joint mobilizations, manual traction, manual stretching, soft tissue mobilization (manual and/or instrument assisted), and passive range of motion.
The ultimate goal of manual therapy in conjunction with therapeutic exercises (and other components of treatment) is to improve physical function.

By: Blanca Cervano, PT, DPT

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