Physical therapy modalities help improve mobility and function in patients who are physically impaired due to injury, surgery, and other medical conditions. Exercise, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and TENS, and traction therapy are just a few examples of what physical therapists use to treat patients.
In this article, we will discuss manual therapy, which is a technique that involves the use of hands to massage to manipulate the body – kneading tissues and stretching joints – to help improve symptoms.
Different Manual Therapy Techniques
There are more than 20 different types of manual therapy techniques. Below are a few of the most common techniques used by physical therapists:
Soft Tissue Mobilization
Muscles are attached to bones, and patients with tense muscles can experience pain and spasms that extend across large areas. Soft tissue mobilization is a technique that aims to decrease muscle tension, which can limit movement using techniques such as pushing on the restricted tissue, holding or rotating it in clockwise or counterclockwise motions, and rhythmic pushing and stretching. Soft tissue mobilization therapy is often administered to patients with spine problems.
Soft tissue mobilization can:
- Break down and reduce scar tissue buildup
- Lengthen muscles and tendons
- Reduce swelling and fluid buildup
- Decrease pain and restore function
Joint mobilization involves loosening up a restricted joint by moving it in the desired direction, through flexion (bending), extension (backward or forward), lateral movement (side to side), and rotation (twisting). Any patient experiencing restricted movement in the neck, back, hip, knee, shoulder, wrist, foot, or ankle can benefit from joint mobilization techniques.
Joint mobilization can:
- Improve joint mobility
- Improve range of motion
- Decrease muscles spasms and tension
- Reduce pain and discomfort
The myofascial release technique involves breaking up tight muscle fibers that cause tenderness and referred pain – pain felt at a site other than the injured or diseased location of the body. Myofascial techniques involve the use of focused and gentle sustained pressure to relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the site and encourage healing. It is most commonly used in the shoulder, neck, and upper back region.
Myofascial release can:
- Release tension or muscle knots
- Relieve pain and soreness
- Promote healing; assist with tissue recovery
- Help the body relax
- Provide stress relief
Manual therapy techniques complement strengthening exercises and are an important part of physical rehabilitation. It is important to consult an expert in manual therapy techniques for safety and the best outcomes.
Physical Therapy Services in Johnson City, Kingsport & Bristol, TN
Watauga Orthopaedics offers superior physical therapy services. Our licensed physical therapists are highly skilled in manual therapy techniques as part of comprehensive treatment of injuries and diseases, as well as pre- and post-surgery recovery. Our friendly and compassionate physical therapists provide personalized, one-on-one care to meet every patient’s recovery goals.
For any questions about our physical therapy services or to schedule an appointment with us, call our orthopedic clinic today at (423) 282-9011, or use our convenient appointment request form. We look forward to serving your orthopedic needs!