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Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy delivered with the hands as opposed to a device or machine.

In manual therapy, practitioners use their hands to put pressure on muscle tissue and manipulate joints in an attempt to decrease pain caused by muscle spasm, muscle tension and joint dysfunction. It can also be used to release the soft tissues i.e. the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint, and is frequently used on arthritic joints.

An example of manual therapy is physical joint mobilisation which uses measured movements of varying speed (slow to fast), force (gentle to forceful), and distances (called 'amplitude') to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint, reduce pain in a joint and surrounding tissue, and help with flexibility and alignment. Mobilisation techniques are graded according to the nature and level of irritation of the problem.

Manual therapy can be done for any joint that has lost its range of motion through injury or post-surgery and involves restoring mobility to stiff joints and reducing muscle tension in order to return the patient to more natural movement without pain. Thus, manual therapy may provide pain relief both for patients with joint problems, and acute pain from soft tissue injuries such as a back muscle strain or a pulled back ligament. As a group, manual therapy techniques are aimed at relaxing tense muscles and restricted joints in order to decrease pain and increase flexibility.