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Types of Physical Therapy: Manual Therapy

When a patient visits a physical therapist due to the fact that they’re having pain in the soft tissues and joints, and once the physical therapist examines the patient, the medical professional may recommend manual therapy. This is one type of physical therapy that is quite effective in relieving joint and soft-tissue pain, thus allowing the patient to have mobility that is pain-free.

Manual therapy is a skillful, reflexive method of manipulating joints and the soft tissues that are giving the patient discomfort. In some ways, manual therapy is similar to massage; however, it is much more localized and therapeutic. One area of focus with physical therapists is the specific and centralized motions that occur between the surfaces of the joints that result in the mobility of the joints. The physical therapist looks closely at what is prohibiting the joints from moving without pain as well as the soft tissues that support the affected area.

The main purposes of manual therapy are: to restore or increase range of motion, reduce inflammation in the tissues, aid in soft tissue repair, help with stability and movement, and generally to improve the function of the affected area.

When a physical therapist performs manual therapy on a patient, he uses his knowledge of the proper placement of hands as well as the distribution of pressure to stabilize the painful joints and tissues. With several sessions, depending on the injury, normal and pain-free movement will be restored. Also, manual therapy can be combined with other modalities, such as stretching and exercising, for optimal healing and restoration.


“The Evidence-Based Practice of Joint Manipulation/Manual Therapy | Sportscare Physical Therapy.” Sportscare Physical Therapy. 2016. Web. 22 May 2016. <>.

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