Manipulative therapy or manual therapy has its roots in the early years of physiotherapy when it was used as a means of promoting healing and relieving pain. Today manipulative therapy is a highly specialised area of the profession, however it may exist in different forms among other professions. Manipulative therapy is the term used for special handling techniques to promote healing of soft tissue. These techniques may include myofascial release, craniosacral techniques, joint mobilisation and massage therapy to name a few. This article takes a brief look at the first three.
Myofascial release is a form of what is called bodywork that seeks to re-balance the body. It is a type of massage that stretches the fascia and releases bonds between the fascia in order to relieve pain. The fascia is the thick band of tissue beneath the skin that covers muscles, organs and bones. The connection between muscles and fascia is what is called the myofascia system. The fascia can become tightened or restricted by stress, injury, inflammation and poor posture. There are two forms of myofascial release – the direct and the indirect method. The direct method gets to the deep tissue to stretch and elongate the fascia. The indirect method is a gentle stretch that brings blood to the tissues and allows the fascia to ‘unwind’ itself.
Joint mobilisation is a common practice among physiotherapists where a joint is moved passively to achieve a therapeutic effect. It is indicated with restriction of motion or pain due to tightness in the muscles and/or tendons. It can also assist in the reabsorbing of scar tissue, speed muscle healing and promote joint mobility by facilitating accessory motions. These are the involuntary movements of tendons and ligaments that bring about full range of motion. Joint mobilisation should not be carried out in the presence of infection, recent fracture, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis or other chronic illnesses.
Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy uses hands-on treatments, joint and soft tissue mobilisations and continual assessment of treatment effectiveness with each application. It is effective in the rehabilitation of a number of sports injuries such as knee injuries and other orthopedic cases. Bone setting is a form of orthopedic manipulative therapy in which bones are set after a fracture. Splinting, casting and bandaging are also part of this treatment. Massage therapy is often used successfully in treating sprains and strains by manipulating specific muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue.
Take care when considering manipulative therapy, as nowadays it is being offered by non-professionals and persons who are not properly trained. Contact us to discuss the suitability of this treatment for you.