Can a Massage Therapist Do Manual Therapy?
Manual therapy is a form of physical healing practiced by medical professionals such as massage therapists, physical therapists, osteopaths and chiropractors. Treatment with this method involves an individualized combination of techniques tailored to each patient’s individual needs. Treatments have often proven successful at improving mobility, relieving pain and stiffness, as well as restoring range of motion.
What is Manual Therapy?
Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy that utilizes hands-on techniques from trained clinicians to manipulate soft tissue, joints and nerves. This can reduce pain and tissue tension, improve joint mobility and provide guidance through exercises for patients.
Exercise, often in combination with manual therapy, is often the missing link between injury and recovery. A randomized clinical trial found that patients who performed supervised exercises plus manual therapy experienced significantly greater improvements in pain and function compared to those who only did exercises without additional assistance.
This technique breaks up scar tissue and stimulates circulation, helping to reduce inflammation. Additionally, it may provide muscle stiffness caused by chronic tightness in muscles or tendons.
What are the Benefits of Manual Therapy?
Manual therapy is a clinical technique employed by physical and occupational therapists, massage therapists and athletic trainers to alleviate pain in muscles, joints, nerves, soft tissues and more. It involves various skilled hand movements, passive joint mobilization and kneading in order to increase range of motion, tissue mobility, reduce swelling, inflammation and restrictions that restrict your range of movement.
Manual techniques not only reduce pain, but they can also aid in rehabilitation and increase participation in active therapy sessions. These are usually employed during the early stages of rehab when your pain may be more acute and movement limitations more severe.
At a manual therapy session, your physical therapist will conduct an extensive assessment of your bones, muscles and joints to identify which manual therapy techniques are most suitable for you. These can help reduce pain, improve circulation, enhance soft tissue health and mobility while promoting faster healing timeframes.
What are the Techniques Used in Manual Therapy?
Manual therapy is a set of specific techniques used to treat muscular-skeletal problems. These treatments are performed on patients by either physical therapists or massage therapists.
These types of hands-on treatments can be utilized to reduce pain, increase joint mobility and enhance soft tissue flexibility. They often form part of a physical therapy program along with exercises.
Exercise for pain management may involve a variety of techniques, such as spinal and joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, strain-counterstrain, myofascial release, muscle energy or PNF techniques and dry needling.
Muscle, ligament or fascia that become tight can create adhesions and restrict movement. A therapist can utilize various forms of soft tissue mobilization to break up adhesions and increase blood flow to the affected area.
A physical therapist can also utilize manual joint manipulation to push, pull or twist your bones and joints back into their proper alignment. The force and speed of these movements varies depending on the therapist’s technique and your body’s response.
Can I receive Manual Therapy from a Massage Therapist?
Massage therapists offer manual therapy, which is a form of physical treatment that incorporates manual techniques. During manual therapy, your massage therapist applies pressure to soft tissues in your body in order to relieve pain, boost circulation and speed up recovery time.
Manual therapy comes in many forms, such as sports massage and physical therapy massage. The latter is employed for physical therapy to strengthen muscles and other soft tissues, reduce inflammation, and enhance range of motion.
Billing for manual therapy requires specific CPT codes that can only be utilized by physical therapists, osteopaths and medical doctors.
Therefore, massage therapists declaring themselves to be “manual therapists” are likely imposters. Not only is this an unwise marketing ploy, but it could also have dangerous repercussions if other medical specialists interpret the term incorrectly and misdiagnose or treat patients incorrectly.
If you’re interested in manual therapy, consider reaching out to a qualified physical therapist at Tribeca Physical Therapy to discuss your options and determine the best course of treatment for your needs.