Do you have pain from an accident, injury, surgery, or illness? You would likely benefit from physical therapy. However, most people who have never been under the care of a physical therapist think that therapy is painful, uncomfortable, or even agonizing. Instead, physical therapists have several tools in their arsenal to help relieve your pain while improving your body’s function. Curious? Contact Sports and Orthopaedic Therapy Services today to find out how you can begin living your life with less pain.
What is manual therapy?
Manual therapy is just one tool in a physical therapist’s kit that allows them to manipulate joints and soft tissue with nothing more than their hands. In an effort to increase range of motion, reduce swelling, mobilize joints or soft tissue, and decrease swelling and restriction, a physical therapist will massage, manipulate, and stretch different areas of the body.
Physical therapists may use one or more of the following techniques:
- Lymphatic drainage
- One of the primary concerns in people who undergo surgery, particularly surgery for breast cancer, is lymphedema. This condition causes swelling in the arms and legs because the lymphatic system is blocked. During manual lymphatic drainage, your physical therapist will apply light pressure in what feels like a massage in order to encourage the flow of lymph from your arm or leg. This is typically followed by compression to reduce the swelling.
- Manual traction
- Manual traction is done by applying gentle force to an area of the body to stretch it. Most often, manual traction is done on the neck as a treatment for neck pain. While you lie on your back, our physical therapist gently takes the base of your skull in one hand and your chin in the other and gently stretches the spaces between your vertebrae for 5–10 seconds at a time. Manual traction can be done in other areas of the body as well, including the back, legs, and arms.
- Massage at a physical therapist’s office is therapeutic rather than the relaxing massage you would find at a spa. Physical therapists manipulate soft tissues in an effort to break up scar tissue adhesions. Using deep pressure and rhythmic stretching, they are able to find and mobilize areas of your body that have the most restriction.
- Most pain that follows an injury happens as the result of a restricted joint. Our Silver Springs physical therapists are able to loosen restricted joints by applying pressure at a low velocity. Safe, effective, and painless, this type of manual therapy increases range of motion and allows the joint’s barrier to begin to break down.
Is manual therapy safe?
The best thing about manual therapy is that it is non-invasive and does not involve taking medications. Instead, physical therapists use a variety of techniques to move your muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons in a way that relieves pain, reduces scar tissue, minimizes swelling, and helps the healing process along. Physical therapists are highly trained medical professionals who understand the limitations of your body as well as its capabilities. While manual therapy is often uncomfortable at first, many patients begin noticing improvement after just one session.
What role does manual therapy play in a physical therapy program?
Physical therapists are trained to diagnose and treat movement disorders. These often occur after surgery, especially when a joint is replaced in the body. However, physical therapy can also be prescribed after an accident, injury, or illness that leaves you weakened or unable to move the way you should. Your physical therapy treatment program will include several different therapies, each targeted at a specific function of your body. You may have exercises that focus on balance or strength and others that help increase your range of motion. Manual therapy is used as an integral part of your physical therapy program, which increases range of motion, reduces pain and swelling, and minimizes inflammation. For more information, or to schedule your appointment with one of our physical therapists, contact us at Silver Spring, MD center today.