Manual Therapy and Pain Alleviation Techniques

Table of Contents

Manual Therapy Definition

Manual therapy is often used nowadays as it provides an opportunity to enhance the condition of patients’ musculoskeletal system. It is a physical treatment that is performed by professionals who manipulate muscles and joints. This technique is often discussed with skepticism because it belongs to alternative medicine. Nevertheless, it is often used as a complementary treatment in addition to traditional medications. This therapy presupposes the use of manual force for the purpose of improved mobility and reduction of pain.

Examples of Manual Therapy Techniques

Manual therapy techniques vary greatly and differ depending on the needs of a patient. There are two basic types of these techniques: those targeted at soft tissues and joints. The first group consists of three major approaches:

  • Soft Tissue Mobilization. It is used to improve or restore motion. A therapist focuses on fascia and uses presses in different ways. As a result of these manipulations, tension is released.
  • (Counter)strain. To reduce muscle spasms, a therapist focuses on tender points and positions the patient’s body so that the muscle relaxes and starts functioning without any pain.
  • Active Release Technique. It is usually used to treat adhesions and scar tissue. A therapist moves a muscle and activates movement with a specific pressure of his/her hand.

The second group of techniques includes:

  • Joint Mobilization. To overcome limited joint motion and associated pain, a therapist uses specific movements to move a joint and reduce spasms.
  • Muscle Energy Techniques. To put a dysfunctional joint in a proper position and enhance the condition of the muscles that are connected with it, a therapist makes a patient perform muscle contraction.
  • Thrust Techniques. They allow improving the motion of those joints that move asymmetrically or incorrectly. A therapist quickly pressures a joint to make it open and close properly (“Hands-on physical therapy: Manual techniques,” 2017).

Education, Scope of Practice and Treatment Claims

Manual therapy practitioners can be chiropractors, osteopaths, and massage therapists, etc. However, all of them need to obtain a specific manual therapy certification/license that proves that they have obtained the required education and are able to provide the required manipulations. They have a right not only to provide required manipulations but also to prescribe medicines needed for treatment without any necessity to contact physicians. It is significant for manual therapists to discuss associated risks with their patients because some manipulations, especially those focused on the neck, may turn out to be rather dangerous. Nevertheless, these professionals can assist those patients who have neurological and rheumatological issues (“Scope of practice,” 2016). They also can treat asthma and improve women’s health.

Case Study of a Successful Treatment

Manual therapy can be rather successful when treating patients with overpronation. For instance, a female patient who was 36-year-old had such issues with her right foot. Soft tissue manipulation was used to overcome the existing problem. “Two one-hour massages per week for four weeks and one one-hour massage per week for the following four weeks” were recommended with the focus on focus on “strengthening all the musculature that supports the arch structure of the foot” (Muscolino, 2016, para. 3). Each session was managed in a similar way but the depth of pressure increased with the course of time, as well as joint mobilization. As a result, the patient’s joints became more mobile, and myofascial trigger points enhanced. Moreover, her tenderness reduced by almost 80% and the strength of the muscles continued improving.


Hands-on physical therapy: Manual techniques. (2017). Web.

Muscolino, Joe. (2016). [Blog post]. Web.

. (2016). Web.

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