Manual therapy

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Manual Therapy encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of the ailments of various etiology's through hands-on intervention.

Back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal issues are very common among both young and old alike. Issues can develop from injuries or the aging process. Poor posture, accidents, birth defects, and old age are the most common causes of pain, requiring the use of manual therapy.

Who uses Manual Therapy?

Manual Therapy is practiced by people within various health care professions, including Chiropractors, Physiotherapists/Physical Therapists, Massage Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Osteopaths, Physiatrists and more.

Manual Assessment uses a variety of hands-on tests in an effort to determine which structure may be responsible for the pain being assessed. Unfortunately, there are no reliability studies demonstrating the ability of such tests to accurately determine the structure responsible for the pain. In fact, the scientific literature has shown that palpation as a manual assessment tool is unreliable and that the underlying cause of 85% of low back pain cannot be determined by any means. Several manual tests that provoke or relieve pain have been shown to be reliable.

Treatment includes all the means of hands-on work and could include, but is not limited to, soft tissue mobilization, various connective tissue techniques, myofascial release, craniosacral mobilizations (developed by cranial osteopaths, mobilization of joints or spinal segments, mobilization of neural tissue, visceral mobilization, strain and counter strain.

Is Manual Therapy Actually Effective?

Advocates of the therapy claim that these techniques, when correctly applied, often result in dramatic improvement of the patient's signs and symptoms. On the other hand, properly designed prospective studies are equivocal as to the therapeutic benefits of manual therapy.

Manual therapy involves the use of body work or massage therapy and other physical manipulation of the body for healing, such as those techniques used in osteopathy, chiropractic, and physical therapy.


A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), what was used, and why it was used in the United States by adults age 18 years and over during 2002. According to this recent survey, manipulative therapy was the 3rd most commonly used NCCAM classification of CAM categories (10.9%) in the United States during 2002.

Styles of manual therapy

There are many different styles of manual therapy. It is a fundamental feature of ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and some forms of New Age alternative medicine as well as being used by mainstream medical practitioners. In one form or another it is probably as old as human culture itself and is a feature to some degree of therapeutic interactions in traditional cultures around the world. It may rely partially upon the placebo effect and can be effective in providing both short- and long-term relief.