Manual therapy is a hands-on  physical therapy treatment  for the management of orthopedic conditions.

Is Manual Therapy right for me?

Curious as to what the difference between Manual Therapy and Physical Therapy is? If so, you’re not alone. Many folks who are about to join our world — or are considering it — wonder what makes us different and why manual therapy is such an effective treatment tool in our “tool box.”

So, what is manual Therapy?


Manual therapy is a technique where the physical therapist uses their hands to perform a therapeutic treatment that helps the tissues in the body to move more freely. When the tissues are able to move freely it allows for improved blood flow and promotes healing of the tissues. Once the tissues are healed, the focus shifts to strengthening your body to restore proper movement patterns. Restoring these movement patterns is required so this pain or injury does not return.

For instance, when you are in pain, your body will take on abnormal movement patterns in an attempt to protect an injured area.  A good example of this would be limping after spraining your ankle. At first, the limping is a very good thing for the ankle, as it helps unload injured tissues.  The problem starts, though, when you continue limping 3 weeks later. The longer you continue walking with an abnormal walking pattern, the longer the sore ankle tissues can take to heal and even worse, promote dysfunction and stress on neighboring joints, muscles, and ligaments. Yikes!

You see, your body thinks that the movement patterns it has been using are “normal.” But these patterns are the same movements that have allowed for pain or dysfunction to occur. If your body is allowed to continue with these bad habits, then the pain or dysfunction will return. Therefore, healthy movement patterns need to be restored to keep the initial pain or injury from returning.

To promote healing of tissue in the body, you must first relearn how to do proper movement patterns. Manual Therapy is a great tool to promote this.

Still don’t believe me? Look at what the research says:
“A skilled manual therapist using joint mobilization and manipulation is able to affect multiple systems within the patient. These range from improved mobility at the joint and surrounding tissues to the release of endogenous hormones (i.e endorphins) which interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that manual therapy has anti-inflammatory effects by activation of receptors in the peripheral nervous system.”

At Move Empower Concerige PT, our physical therapists are fellowship trained in manual therapy. This training allows us to determine which muscles, ligaments, discs, fascia, joints, bones, or cartilage are not moving correctly and why. We then use our hands – literally, hands on techniques – to help those tissues move correctly. By restoring proper movement, we allow the tissues to heal.

 

This type of treatment may sound pretty “black and white.” In reality though, each patient’s treatment plan will look different. Factors such as your age, sex, and over-all health will determine how much manual therapy you will need. I can guarantee you that your tissues are different than those of your family members or your friends! Your pain pattern is unique, much like your fingerprints are. That’s why it’s so critical to address YOUR specific needs. So, we can give YOUR body what it needs to heal completely so this problem doesn’t come back again.

 

At Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy we focus FIRST on getting the muscles and joints moving correctly. Once they are moving correctly, we can strengthen them to keep them moving in a functional pattern! This allows for a long term solution to your specific problem.

physical therapy in your home Austin TX

Is it Chiropractic care?

No. Although we do utilize thrust manipulation techniques (the typical popping of joints in chiropractic practices) when appropriate, within our treatment, this is only one type of manual therapy. Our manual therapy also includes gentle joint mobilization, tissue manipulation, and neuromuscular reeducation exercises where the PT’s hands create the resistance to the muscle.  

 

Is it the same as Massage?

No. Although, we do use many of the same techniques as a massage therapist to get the muscle relaxed and moving. Our techniques are very specific and targeted towards the region of dysfunction and pain.

 

How is Manual Physical Therapy Different From Traditional Physical Therapy?

Traditional physical therapy focuses on using exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles to decrease pain and improve function. This approach definitely can be beneficial and fairly effective.  Personally, as a young therapist right out of physical therapy school, I found myself doing just that: strengthening and stretching. I’d say it worked 75% of the time and got folks about ~80% better. Not bad, but for me, not good enough. After going through my manual therapy fellowship, my practice of PT took a major shift. I was able to tease out movement dysfunctions, discover which joints weren’t moving well, and treat them more specifically. Think laser guided vs. shot gun.

 

I also learned how to use my hands to pick up poorly moving joints, tight muscles, and irritated nerves. What manual therapy allowed me to do was restore proper movement of the joints and tissues and then work on strengthening them to “lock in” the newly restored mobility. With this came better patient outcomes and longer term relief.

 

What can I expect from a manual therapy intervention?

At Move Empower Concierge PT we use a variety of manual therapy techniques that include:

  • Restoring Range of Motion (ROM)
  • Inducing relaxation
  • Improving muscle power
  • Facilitating movement
  • Improving function and sports performance

What is key, though, to maintaining the benefits of the manual therapy is the exercise the patient does afterward. Think of the exercise as helping “lock-in” the benefits of manual therapy. Without this, the improvements in range of motion, joint mobility, and muscle flexibility will be short-lived.

 

Manual therapy techniques followed up by specific therapeutic and neuromuscular exercise is a key ingredient to high-quality orthopedic physical therapy that will get you on the road to being pain-free, long term!

Curious if manual therapy would benefit you?

Let’s start a conversation! We can discuss what is causing you pain, what treatments we recommend, and how we can get you to a pain-free life that allows you yo do all the activities you love! Call us at (512) 659-5615 or FILL OUT THIS FORM to get your FREE discovery session.

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