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Manual Physical Therapy at Methodist Health

Manual Physical Therapy at Methodist Health

By Kerry McClure, PT, DPT, Methodist Health Therapy Services

Physical Therapy is the assessment and treatment of movement dysfunction, which often involves relieving pain. Manual Therapy, the use of one's hands to assess and treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, has been used in one form or another for 6,000 years. Physical Therapists, as well as Osteopathic Physicians (DOs) and Chiropractors, currently practice Manual Physical Therapy. With some similarities, each discipline has its own approach, methods and terminology.

How is Manual Therapy used by Physical Therapists?
Manual Therapy as practiced by Physical Therapists is one of the best-kept secrets in the medical profession since not all Physical Therapists utilize this type of therapy. In addition, there are different Manual Therapy systems/approaches within the discipline of Physical Therapy. Manual Physical Therapy falls within two general categories: joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization.

What is Joint Mobilization?
Joint Mobilization involves the movement of one bone in relation to another bone in a joint, targeting accessory joint motion that is essential to normal joint movement. Accessory movement happens without your consent. For example, when you straighten your knee, your tibia (larger lower leg bone) rotates outward to facilitate the extension/straightening. When accessory joint movement is restricted, resulting in joint dysfunction, Manual Therapy can restore normal joint movement.

What is Soft Tissue Mobilization?
Soft Tissue Mobilization involves techniques to decrease tension and pain in the soft tissues. Along with accessory joint movement, soft tissue strength and flexibility are essential to normal pain-free movement. When restricted, it can result in a chronic pain disorder called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Soft Tissue Mobilization most often targets the muscle (myo) and fascia, a network of tissue present throughout the body, which organizes and supports all the structures in the body. Myofascial Release involves gentle compressions and stretches to soft tissues that result in relaxation of “trigger points.”

Do all Physical Therapy problems benefit from Manual Therapy?
Not all Physical Therapy problems benefit from Manual Therapy. Even in cases where Manual Therapy is not needed as an intervention, a Manual Therapist can provide a more thorough evaluation. Only a Manual Therapist can identify and treat Manual Therapy problems.

About Kerry McClure, PT, DPT
Kerry McClure is a Manual Physical Therapist with 21 years experience at Methodist Health Therapy Services. He is certified in the “signs and symptoms” approach (a.k.a the Maitland-Australian Method). For more information, contact Methodist Health’s Therapy Services at 270-827-7593.