Manual therapy is the use of the therapist’s hands in the treatment of the patient. This is usually in the form of soft tissue mobilization or joint mobilization. In soft tissue mobilization, different massage techniques are applied in specific directions to the dysfunctional tissues to loosen adhesions, realign healing fibers, decrease pain and swelling, and calm spasm. They can also be used to lengthen tight muscles.
Joint mobilization consists of skilled passive movements of the joint to restore optimal motion or to modulate pain. Each joint has accessory movements that are necessary for normal range of motion. For instance, for the knee to bend, the knee cap must slide inferiorly on the leg. A joint mobilization technique for knee flexion would be inferior glide of the knee cap. Mobilizations can be very gentle, just to control pain, moderate to improve range of motion, or a high velocity, low amplitude thrust to alter muscle tone and improve joint mobility.
How can Manual Therapy Help Me?
If you have muscle spasm and tightness, soft tissue mobilization can relax and lengthen the muscle. It can be used to soften and lengthen scars, allowing joints to move better. Soft tissue mobilization helps pain such as low back and neck pain, rotator cuff pain, and plantar fasciitis. Joint mobilization is used to regain motion lost after surgery, for example after total joint replacement, ACL reconstruction or shoulder surgery. It is also used to improve joint mobility in the spine.