Manual or manipulative therapy is a structured, highly specific and dosed treatment for various bodily structures and systems, including joints, muscles or nerves.

The methods used are determined from your diagnosis and tailored safely to your need for pain relief and better movements. This includes various types of passive movement applied to you in the session such as manipulation ( a single motion with a harmless pop or crack sound), mobilisation (repeated motions), stretching and massage. Some treatments combine movement from you as a patient with an addition of a treatment technique at the same time. Equipment is used and can be taught to you as a home self-treatment.

This form of treatment results in local relief of pain, but can also be widespread to other areas of the body, with research results of improved muscle activation, positive stimulation to the nerve system, via endorphin release, scar tissue softening and improved joint range (1). Positive benefits in pain relief and improved function can be prolonged with supplementation with specific exercises targeting the cause of the problem.

Manual therapy is not a stand-alone treatment and your Physiotherapist will make recommendations for a multidimensional, or combined treatment approach. This includes not only specific exercise, but a framework of treatments that can include lifestyle management, ergonomic advice and where recommended; medication and counselling. The whole person is better treated with this approach.

1) Pain Manag. 2015 5(6)

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Frequently Asked Questions

What results do I get from manual therapy?

Improved flexibility of joints and soft tissues, pain relief, improved movement, and better comfort, reduced swelling and inflammation.

How soon will I see results?

A detailed assessment at the start will give you a more accurate diagnosis and a more direct treatment path to recovery. This first phase is focused on pain relief. Once under control, the focus will shift to mobility, endurance, strength and coordination of movement. Each of us has our own needs, preferences and diagnosis so we build a strategy with you to keep pain-free.

A third phase is maintenance which requires you to look after yourself with your specific home programme and maintenance visits if and when required. This is because the pain is usually the last thing to appear to tell you there is a problem and with treatment the first thing to settle. So stick to your treatment plan and get a good foundation to stay well!

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* Conferred by Fellowship of the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2010