Manual therapy

Manual therapy (sometimes called bodywork) is a general term for treatment performed with the hands and not with any other devices or machines. The goals of manual therapy include relaxation, decreased pain, and increased flexibility.

Manual therapy can include:

  • Massage, which applies pressure to the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles. Massage can help relax muscles, increase circulation, and ease pain in the soft tissues.
  • Mobilization, which uses slow, measured movements to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint and help with flexibility and alignment.
  • Manipulation, which uses rapid, forceful movements to position the bones and joints. This is a more aggressive therapy. Not all physical therapists are trained to do manipulation.

Last Updated: August 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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