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Manual Therapy

General knowledge indicates that manual physical therapy is the art of treating ailments with the professional’s own hands. As we practice here in Spokane, manual therapy is a set of techniques used to treat various conditions, where the main tools are the hands of the therapist.

What is Manual Therapy?

Manual therapy is a form of physical therapy that involves handson techniques aimed at reducing pain and improving function in the musculoskeletal system. It involves skilled manipulation, mobilization, and stretching of joints, muscles, and soft tissues to improve mobility, reduce pain, and restore function. Manual therapy techniques are often used in conjunction with other forms of physical therapy, such as exercise and modalities like heat or ice therapy. Common types of manual therapy include joint mobilization, massage, myofascial release, and spinal manipulation. Manual therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, headaches, and sports injuries.

Manual therapy is commonly associated with massages or massage therapy, but it is much more extensive in technique and philosophy. The mechanics and anatomy of the human body allow us to recognize a series of techniques to treat ailments or dysfunctions. With manual therapy, the patient’s bone, muscle, and joint tissues acted upon using a set of methods specially designed to treat pain.

It is a non-invasive and straightforward, as the hands are the primary tool. However, handheld devices are sometimes incorporated to achieve the desired result. Of course, to practice it correctly, critical knowledge of biomechanics and the applied techniques are required, as well as the possible injuries that frequently occur in patients. Despite being a simple manual technique, we need extensive knowledge and experience to know how and when to utilize various approaches. Clinical analysis of movements and body structures is essential, and all techniques are subjected to rigorous analysis to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

The application of manual therapy begins with a physical examination of the patient. By carefully examining a client’s condition, our Physical Therapists can pinpoint the tissues involved and prescribe an accurate manual therapeutic intervention to help regain the desired function. In many cases, other complementary studies such as ultrasound, MRI, or X-rays can help to find the problem more quickly and accurately. In general, the ailments that occur are of the muscular or joint type, such as sprains or tendonitis. Many injuries are due to overloads or excessive efforts but are also acquired from trauma.

Once we determine the nature of the condition, a treatment plan is created. Duration of care is provided is based on medical history, the severity of tissues involved, and one’s ability to limit the aggravating activities during recovery. This treatment may include soft tissue techniques, exercises, mobilizations, and manipulation of different regions of the body. The main objective of these techniques is to mitigate the pain felt by the patient. However, in many cases, the condition is accompanied by decreased mobility. We can help recover lost mobility through the application of manual therapies. In many cases, our manual therapy techniques are combined with graded therapeutic exercise, education, and activity modifcation to achieve a more effective result.

What are the advantages of this treatment?

One of the main advantages of manual therapy with Cornerstone Physical Therapy here in Spokane is this approach’s simplicity and effectiveness, which does not require invasive procedures or medication. Of course, depending on the severity of the injury, in some cases, it is unavoidable to resort to more invasive techniques, such as surgery. But in the vast majority of patients, this is not necessary. When correctly applied, manual therapy can solve a large number of ailments. If you are suffering from muscle or joint pain, do not hesitate to contact our office to make an appointment with a manual therapy clinician.

Some ailments, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arise from restrictions of the nerves. The neurodynamic technique can be very effective, allowing the nerve to be released from the pressure. A less frequently considered contributor to various pain patterns in the viscera (organs). Limitations in visceral mobility from surgeries, injuries, behavior, and stress can strain the fascia and create constant tension to tissues throughout the body.

Manual Therapy is a beautiful intervention in which the skilled clinician can directly feel the condition. We can feel its warmth, its unhappiness, and where it wants to go. A particular spinal segment may be “stuck” and produce radiating symptoms down the arm. But releasing the stuck vertebra isn’t always what the body wants at the moment. We must consider the beliefs, fears, and conditions of the person we are treating. Those experiences often translate into the tissues’ willingness to be freed. For example, let’s say you want to run a marathon but have never run before. You wouldn’t just start running 26.2 miles the next day. You might have to start with suitable footwear, essential strengthening, and flexibility, begin jogging a few miles a week, and then work your way up to the entire distance. Some people may already have some fitness level and can jump right in, and others may be starting from scratch. One can look at manual therapy for pain relief in a similar way. If one’s diet is inadequate, stress levels are elevated, and other medical conditions are uncontrolled, then jumping in and achieving a miraculous resolution of symptoms may be similar to jumping into a marathon this weekend and expecting positive outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Manual therapy is a fundamental approach we use in our clinic.  It allows us to precisely address the impairment and realize what muscular retraining or exercise needs to be provided to achieve lasting results. Although other techniques are complementary, manual therapy will almost always be present in your physical therapy visit here at Cornerstone Physical Therapy.

Yes, in addition to being a technique to relieve pain, it is also useful to prevent future ailments. Through soft tissue and joint mobilization, it is possible to avoid future contractures or mechanical impairments since the problems afflicting patients are generally progressive. The injury develops or accumulates over time until the pain becomes intolerable.

Yes, manual therapy is safe if it is performed by a trained professional. To correctly apply the methods of manual therapy, it is necessary to have an extensive knowledge base of human anatomy and biomechanics. Cornerstone Physical Therapy employs the most educated professionals in the area. Do not hesitate to make an appointment to start relieving pain.

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