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Manual Therapy


Manual physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy delivered with the hands as opposed to a device or machine. In manual therapy, practitioners use their hands to put pressure on muscle tissue and manipulate joints in an attempt to decrease back pain caused by muscle spasm, muscle tension, and joint dysfunction.

As a group, manual physical therapy techniques are aimed at relaxing tense back muscles and restricted joints in order to decrease back pain and increase flexibility. In general, manual physical therapy techniques employ the following types of movement:

  • Soft tissue work, including massage, which applies pressure to the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles. This pressure can help relax muscles, increase circulation, break up scar tissue, and ease pain in the soft tissues.
  • Mobilization/manipulation, which uses measured movements of varying speed (slow to fast), force (gentle to forceful), and distances (called 'amplitude') to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint, reduce pain in a joint and surrounding tissue, and help with flexibility and alignment.

Passive physical therapy (modalities), which includes things done to the patient, such as heat application, ice packs and electrical stimulation. For example, a heating pad may be applied to warm up the muscles prior to doing exercising and stretching, and an ice pack may be used afterward to sooth the muscles and soft tissues

Right Rehab, which focuses on specific exercises and stretching. For most low back pain treatments, active exercise is the focus of the physical therapy programmatic

Physical Therapy Before and After Back Surgery

There is substantial evidence supporting the benefits of physical therapy and exercise both before and after back surgery. The strength and stability that physical therapy provides can significantly shorten a patient's recovery time after surgery. Physical therapy and exercise is considered an important part of most back pain patients' treatments, including those undergoing non-surgical and surgical care. This is because patients with low back pain are most likely to recover when the patient is in optimum physical condition. Unless there is a contraindication for physical therapy or a patient requires emergency surgery, most patients are advised to undergo a trial of physical therapy prior to considering back surgery.


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