What is Manual Therapy and how can it help?
Manual Therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy delivered with the hands as opposed to using a device or machine. In manual therapy, practitioners use a hands-on approach to put pressure on muscle tissue and manipulate joints in an attempt to decrease pain, increase joint mobility and stretch dysfunctional tissues in order to return some normality to the body.
Many patients arrive at their first physical therapy appointment expecting to receive hot packs, ultrasound and instructions on how to complete a series of exercises. These modalities are warranted in many instances and most therapists would agree that exercise is needed to help restore muscle imbalances. However, at PROCare Physical Therapy, we approach the restoration of function from a different perspective then most other physical therapy offices. Our therapists are more interested in why a muscle or joint isn’t functioning properly and view exercise not as the driving mode of recovery but as a complement to the manual therapy.
If you are experiencing increased pain and/or stiffness in any of your joints and muscles, manual therapy is often helpful. Patients seek out this type of physical therapy for a variety of aliments and conditions.
What kinds of manual therapy exist?
There are four (4) notable forms of manual therapy used by our physical therapists: manipulation, mobilization and massage.
Manipulation is the artful introduction of a rapid rotational, shear or distraction force into a stiff joint. Manipulation is often associated with an audible popping sound caused by the instantaneous breakdown of gas bubbles that form during joint cavitation.
Mobilization (Joint and Muscle)
A “restricted joint” or muscle often occurs after an injury, such as falling, twisting, or straining a body part. The injury to the joint leads to muscle spasms, thus, restricted movement. Joint mobilization movements, such as a “glide and slide” of opposing bones, helps get the joints working properly again. This technique is a more controlled process of articular and muscle (myofascial) stretching intended to improve bio-mechanical elasticity, ROM and flexibility.
Soft Tissue Massage (STM) or Myofascial Release (MFR) is typically the repetitive rubbing, stripping or kneading of myofascial tissues to principally improve circulation and tissue mobility for increased healing. Its main focus is on muscles, ligaments and tendons. Often if a patient hasn’t had a chance to use a set of muscles due to illness, or has been injured in that area, the tissues can become scarred, and robbed of the precious fluids that promote flexibility and mobility. STM/MFR focuses on limbering up these damaged areas, while promoting overall wellness.
At times, muscles work themselves into abnormal states, in which the muscle (stretch reflex) has difficulty relaxing itself. To treat this, our certified physical therapists use a technique known as “strain/counterstrain” that guides the problematic muscle into positions that are “opposite” the ones at which pain and tenderness starts. Staying in this position of slight tension helps relieve the spasms by gently pulling the muscles into the opposite direction of the strain to get it to relax. There are other neurmuscular techniques that are also utilized to help treat certain conditions and include, Active Release Technique (ART), Muscle Energy Technique (MET) and Feldenkris.
Instrument Assisted Techniques
Recently, new advancements in myofascial techniques have been introduced into the world of physical therapy which include Graston and Dry Needling techniques to help treat and heel tissues more quickly, thus, returning patient’s back to sports, recreational activities, exercising or activities of daily living faster. Our therapists are certified and trained to utilize tools and filament (Acupuncture) needles to cox stubborn muscles and scar tissue into a relaxation state through both biochemical and biomechanical changes.
Where can I get this specialized manual therapy techniques for my pain and stiffness?
Our expert physical therapists here at PROCare Physical Therapy are highly qualified to practice manual therapy and certified in advanced techniques. With years of specialized training and experience, we provide gentle, hands-on therapies that address a broad range of muscle and joint conditions and injuries. Stop your Pain Today. Call us to schedule an appointment to help you Get Better, Faster!