What Is Manual Therapy?
Manual therapy is a form of hands-on physical treatment used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions. There are many forms of manual therapy that can be used to effectively treat many conditions, but most of them focus on muscle and joint manipulation.
These forms of hands-on treatment can be used to reduce inflammation, increase range of motion, relax muscles, increase stability, and improve overall function. Listing every condition that may be improved by manual therapy would be impossible, but a few notable examples include the following:
Manual Therapiy: Example Treatments
- abnormal gait
- hip/pelvic pain
- joint stiffness
- low back pain
- neck pain
- paresthesia (tingling) in the limbs
- pelvic floor disorders
- shoulder pain
- tightened muscles
- upper back pain
Strain-Counterstrain Manual Therapy
One of the most effective forms of manual therapy is a system called strain-counterstrain. These techniques are used to put the body in very specific positions intended to release tension in an affected area (myofascial release).
By positioning the body to give some slack to the affected soft tissue for a short period of time (typically 90 seconds), the spasming tissues relaxes, resulting in immediate pain relief and increased range of motion. As such, treatment involving strain-counterstrain manual therapy can reduce or even temporarily eliminate pain and restore function in as little as one treatment.
Other forms of manual therapy include massage therapy, joint mobilization, joint manipulation (most notable in chiropractic care), traction, and craniosacral osteopathy (gentle manipulation of the cranium).
Depending on the patient’s needs and the skills of the therapist, a variety of manual therapy techniques may be used to treat a given condition. For example, a patient might see a physical therapist for joint mobilization and manual traction followed by a massage therapist for a release of soft tissue tension. Combinations of such techniques can be extremely effective in decreasing a patient’s pain and increasing their function, helping them return to a normal lifestyle more quickly than otherwise possible.
If you’re struggling with acute or chronic pain, Yakima’s Central Washington Physical Therapy may be able to help you. Our staff is skilled in manual therapy––particularly strain counterstrain. Contact us below to get started.