When it comes to easing chronic joint pain, reducing muscle tension, and increasing your range of motion, there are distinct advantages to putting yourself in the hands of a physical therapist.
As its name implies, hands-on treatment, also referred to as manual therapy, is a form of rehabilitative care that involves a trained physical therapist physically manipulating tender soft tissue (muscles and connective tissue) that are causing you pain or restricting your range of motion.
As such, the goals of hands-on physical therapy include:
- A reduction of pain
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Increased circulation
- A reduction in soft tissue tension and stiffness
How Hands-On Physical Therapy Works
Hands-on physical therapy usually includes some form of joint specific mobilization or manipulation used to increase range of motion and reduce pain or muscle tension. A manipulation is a high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust that is applied to a specific joint. It is performed as a gentle prolonged stretch or oscillation within a pain-free range and is commonly used to treat a spinal condition but is also used to treat painful extremities.
Once the therapist is successful in improving range of motion and reducing pain, therapeutic exercises can then be performed to help strengthen and stabilize joints. However, joint mobilization and manipulation should only be performed by a therapist who has received extensive specialized training in manual therapy.
There is a wide variety of diverse hands-on techniques included in this type of physical rehab therapy. These include:
- Soft tissue massage involves stroking or gliding motions that are performed over a muscular or connective tissue area to help improve tissue relaxation and mobility, or reduce pain in the specific region.
- Joint manipulation is a quick, thrust-style technique, taking an affected joint beyond its normal range of motion for the purpose of improving mobility and helping minimize pain.
- Joint mobilization involves slower, repetitive oscillations within a joint’s range of motion limits, which work to promote mobility and increase the joint’s range of motion.
- Friction massage is a technique used to increase circulation and release areas that are tight – especially around joints – by delivering penetrating pressure applied through the therapist’s fingertips. It is intended to temporarily increase inflammation and break up scar tissue to promote healing and reduce pain.
- Passive stretching refers to the extension or lengthening of a muscle (or group of muscles) to improve its range of motion and increase flexibility in its area.
If used under the correct circumstances, each of these techniques – whether used individually or in tandem with one another – can be beneficial to patients with chronic joint or muscle pain.
Note: Not all patients will necessarily benefit from hands-on physical therapy. Your physical therapist can help you decide whether this type of treatment is right for your personal needs and goals.
Hands-On Physical Therapy in the Greater Jacksonville, Florida Area
At H2health, our highly trained therapists are experts in treating movement disorders and can provide you with the rehabilitative tools and hands-on care you need to recover quickly and painlessly. We take a holistic treatment approach that aims to resolve – rather than manage – an acute or chronic orthopedic issue. In addition to hands-on physical therapy, our wide range of specialty services include:
- General orthopedic physical therapy
- Post operative orthopedic treatment
- Massage therapy
- Worker’s compensation rehabilitation
- Senior services
- Healthy lifestyle program
- And more
Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive services or to schedule your appointment with one of our dedicated highly skilled therapists.