Manual Therapy


Physiotherapist performing Manual Therapy

An important component of Physiotherapy is Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy, which is a specialized form of physical therapy delivered with the hands as opposed to a device or machine. In manual therapy, Physiotherapists use their hands to put pressure on muscle tissue and manipulate joints in an attempt to decrease pain caused by injury, disease, muscle spasm, muscle tension or joint dysfunction. Manual therapy can be helpful for the treatment of joints that lack adequate mobility and range of motion in certain musculoskeletal conditions. This limitation can cause discomfort, pain, and an alteration in function, posture, and movement. Manual physical therapy involves restoring mobility to stiff joints and reducing muscle tension in order to return the patient to more natural movement without pain.  As a group, manual physical therapy techniques are aimed at relaxing tense muscles and restricted joints in order to decrease pain and increase flexibility. In general, manual physical therapy techniques employ the following types of movement:

  • Soft tissue work, where pressure, including massage, is applied to the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles. This pressure can help relax muscles, increase circulation, break up scar tissue, and ease pain in the soft tissues.
  • Mobilization/manipulation, 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.

A practitioner using stainless steel instruments in the Graston Technique

In conjunction with a prescribed course of Manual Therapy sessions, our Physiotherapist may also integrate the Graston Technique.  This technique allows the physiotherapist to use stainless steel instruments to comb over and “catch” on fibrotic tissue, identifying areas of restriction.  This effectively breaks down scar tissue and reduces inflammation that causes pain and restricted mobility.  As well as incorporating stretching, strengthening, and ice in the treatment rehabilitation process, the soft tissue can be rebuilt to its healthy, functioning state.