Within the physiotherapy profession, manual therapy is defined as a clinical approach utilizing a skilled technique. This specific hands-on technique can be used for diagnosing and treatment of pathologies. Pathologies usually involve the musculoskeletal or neural system.
Manual therapy requires a vast knowledge of the anatomy of the human skeleton, muscles and neural tissues and also functional anatomy of these structures. And, it requires complex and extensive clinical reasoning skills and experience along with the knowledge of the application of different manual therapy techniques. A physiotherapist can choose to use one or more of these techniques at the time.
Main categories of manual therapy can be classified as mobilization of joints, neural tissue and soft tissue, manipulation and deep tissue massage. Mobilization can be done passively or actively with the cooperation of the patient. Manipulation is applied only when it is necessary with consent provided by the patient.
With manual therapy, the aim is to reduce pain, increase mobility in the spine or in other joints, reduce or eliminate soft tissue inflammation, induce relaxation, improve tissue repair, extensibility, and/or stability and function.
It may be used for a wide range of problems, including low back pain; neck pain and injuries; hip, knee, ankle and foot problems; post-surgical conditions; hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder problems; and injuries caused by accidents.