Living with pain is no way to live, not if there is a way to help reduce it. Physiotherapy is often recommended to patients dealing with acute and chronic pain.

Traditional physiotherapy typically entails muscle strengthening exercises and stretches used to help improve core strength and flexibility- both of which have been proven highly effective at long-term pain management. However, there is another less talked about subset of physiotherapy that can aid in your recovery- manual therapy physiotherapy.

What’s the Difference Between Manual Therapy and Physiotherapy?

While often used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between manual therapy and physiotherapy. Where most physiotherapy techniques are geared towards improving strength and mobility, manual therapy is a hands-on technique that treats pain and inflammation at the source. Using their hands, your physiotherapist will employ various soft tissue mobilization techniques to improve joint motion and decrease muscle tension, which together can often have an immediate pain reduction effect.

Once joints and muscles have been “warmed up,” regular physiotherapy, which includes muscle strengthening and stretching, can provide patients with the tools they need to help alleviate pain.

Also Read: What is Manual Therapy Physiotherapy and Why it Works

What Conditions Is Manual Therapy Used to Treat?

Manual therapy works well to help reduce soft tissue swelling, decrease muscle stiffness, and improve range of motion. It is used to treat pain originating from a variety of sources, including;

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Hip problems
  • Knee issues
  • Hand and wrist conditions
  • Foot and ankle injuries

Manual therapy is rarely used on its own. Instead, it is used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan created and tailored to your needs. When used in combination with strength training exercise and stretching, manual therapy can help “jump-start” the recovery process while some patients even report feeling immediate pain relief.

Manual Physiotherapy Techniques

A manual therapy session will begin with an assessment to correctly identify the source of pain and to verify that a patient is a good candidate for the therapy. Once a physiotherapist has a better understanding of the injury, they will create a tailored rehabilitation plan including some or all the following manual therapy techniques:

  • Soft tissue mobilization (also known as myofascial release)
    The buildup of scar tissue can be extremely painful. Using their hands, the physiotherapist will use manual techniques to help break up fibrous muscle tissue, move tissue fluids, and release tense muscles.
  • Strain-counterstain
    This technique uses passive body positioning to help relieve tender pain points. Positions are held for up to 90 seconds after which the body slowly exists the stretch, resetting strained or shortened muscles.
  • Joint mobilization
    Mobilization of pulled muscles can help produce long-term pain relief by loosening joints and increasing the range of motion through low velocity and gradually increasing amplification of targeted movement

These techniques can provide measurable pain relief and increased mobility when used correctly.

What Are the Benefits of Manual Therapy Physiotherapy?

As part of a broader treatment plan, manual therapy has many benefits for those who suffer from acute or chronic back, neck, or shoulder pain or other musculoskeletal disorders.

Also Read: Benefits of Manual Therapy

Manual therapy helps to increase the blood floor to injured areas which bring important nutrients essential to the body’s natural healing process. At the same time, manual therapy techniques address musculoskeletal at the source. Using a combination of mobilization and massage techniques, your physiotherapist can slowly release tense muscles, stiff joints, and soft tissue. The result for the patient is many times an immediate reduction in pain and a gradual improvement in motion range.