Manual therapy is the art of identifying and treating too much motion or too little motion or stiffness of a joint, muscle or other tissue.

Is manual therapy right for you?

Manual therapy is just one of many tools that physical therapists can use to treat patients. Manual therapy is the art of identifying and treating too much motion or laxity (called “hypermobility”) or too little motion or stiffness (called “hypomobility”) of a joint, muscle, or other tissue. 

There are many benefits to manual therapy as a treatment, including:

  • Regulating pain 
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Increasing movement 
  • Assisting in tissue repair 
  • Improving overall function

By definition, manual therapy is a hands-on approach in which a therapist can assess/treat any body part or joint. For example, patients suffering from muscle tightness or spasms may benefit from soft tissue mobilization or massage-type treatments. Whereas a patient that has stiff or tight joints may benefit from joint mobilization or manipulation to increase movement of the joint. 

Some manual therapists are considered spine specialists since they have a certification and specialized training in manipulating and treating the specific joints and tissues of the spine. However, manual therapy can be applied to any body part and is also commonly used to treat the shoulder, knee and ankle. 

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About the Author

Kyla Kraft, MPT, MTC, specializes in outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation with certification in manual therapy. She has more than 11 years of clinical experience working with variety of diagnoses and age groups with the goal of assisting patients in returning to their prior level of function.