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Manual or Manipulative Therapy for Orthopedic Problems - An Alternative Treatment

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Manual or Manipulative Therapy for Orthopedic Problems - An Alternative Treatment

1 min read


Manual therapy or manipulative therapy is a hands-on therapy for many major as well as minor disorders for the bone and muscles, and stiff joints.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At October 30, 2015
Reviewed AtDecember 1, 2023

Manipulative therapy is a widely used treatment procedure implemented by physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The treatment protocol uses specific methods aimed to relieve pain and discomfort and at the same time not cause any untoward harm to the patient physically by using the doctor's hand as a tool. The treatment utilizes techniques formulated with extreme precaution and scientific methodology to benefit the patient significantly. Manual therapy can treat acute and chronic disorders as well as enhance muscle function.

The therapy incorporates various glides and muscle pain relief mechanisms. The therapy is most effective for back pain management and spinal disorders. This treatment line can also be used in some intensive congenital disorders such as clubfoot (congenital equinovarus).

Manual therapy in some cases can be used in adjunct to soft tissue mobilization or massage techniques but it is to be carried out only by a professional practitioner. Very few are actually aware of the usage and credibility of this procedure. On the contrary, those who have been treated now only rely on this mode of therapy.

Few disorders that can be effectively treated with manual therapy include:

  • Shoulder - frozen shoulder, shoulder pain, greater trochanteric fracture, humerus fracture, elbow dysfunctions, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow.
  • Hip - hip dysfunction, hip joint pain, patella fracture, knee dysfunctions, lack of knee ROM (range of motion).
  • Ankle - clubfoot.
  • Spine - cervical and lumbar spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, cervical dysfunctions, ankylosing spondylitis, cervical rib pain.
  • Chest - to enhance breathing.
  • Temporomandibular dysfunction - clicking, painful jaw opening.

The above are a few disorders which can be treated by manipulative or manual therapy. There are endless lists of disorders which are now being treated by similar alternative therapies. Manipulative therapy is attracting people due to positive outcomes and good success rates.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy?

Osteopathic manipulative treatment is a hands-on treatment approach used to treat mechanical pain (bone, muscle, or tendon pain due to structural imbalance) and a variety of health conditions. It is also used to diagnose and prevent disease and help in better functioning of the body.


What Is Manipulative and Manual Therapy?

Manipulative therapy, also known as manual therapy or mobilization therapy, is a form of hands-on treatment in which a physiotherapist tries to cautiously move the tissues and joints of the body to restore movement and relieve pain.


What Are the Uses of Manipulative Therapy?

Manipulative therapists include osteopathy, manual medicine, and chiropractic treatment. They are mainly used for:
- Musculoskeletal problems, including shoulder, spine, and neck disorders. 
- Joint and posture problems.
- Sports injuries.
- Whiplash injuries.
- Sciatica.
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI).


What Treatment Do Manipulative Therapists Perform?

Manipulative therapies include chiropractic, physiotherapy, manual medicine, and osteopathy. They are commonly used for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems, including neck, and shoulder disorders, in addition to spine injuries, posture, and muscle problems.


Is Manipulative Therapy Beneficial?

Manual therapy or manipulative therapy is an extremely effective therapeutic method used in the management of patients with musculoskeletal disorders and acute or chronic pains. Manual therapy is based on the practitioner’s skills to reduce pain and improve joint mobility.


Whom Should We Consult for Spine Manipulation?

Spinal manipulation is the force applied to the spinal joint that moves the target joint slightly beyond its normal range of movement. It is performed by chiropractors, followed by osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, and medical doctors.


What Is the Difference Between Manipulation Therapy and Criptotherapy?

The manipulation technique tends to target the entire spine, but the chiropractic technique focuses on specific areas. So manipulation provides short-term pain relief, whereas chiropractic adjustment offers long-term benefits.


What Are the Stages of Manipulation?

There are four stages of manipulation that are:
- Targeting stage.
- Friendship-forming stage.
- Loving relationship stage. 
- Abusive relationship stage.


Is Manual Therapy Safe?

Manual therapy is a non-invasive procedure and it does not involve any harmful medicines or surgical correction. This method uses a variety of techniques with an aim of moving ligaments, joints, and tendons in ways that facilitate healing and pain relief.


Does Manual Therapy Hurt?

Manual therapy can cause mild discomfort and soreness because the muscles are being used to move the bones, so when this happens, the injured muscle activates the pain fibers in the specific area, and so pain is experienced.


Is Manual Therapy a Type of Massage?

Manipulative therapy is the oldest healthcare practice, as references to massage are found in 4000 year ancient Chinese medical texts. Manual therapy or manipulative therapy is a hands-on therapy for many major as well as minor disorders for the bone and muscles, and stiff joints.


What Treatment Does Osteopathic Manipulation Provide?

Osteopathic manipulation treatment is a hands-on approach procedure to musculoskeletal disorders. It is used to correct structural imbalances in the body, relieve pain and improve circulation.


What Are the Complications of Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a kind of treatment approach that involves stretching the muscles and massaging the bone. Osteopathy can cause fatigue and soreness in the affected area. Although, these side effects are temporary and do not bother the patient for more than a day or two.
Shwetanjali Gandhe
Shwetanjali Gandhe


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