What is manual therapy?

Manual therapy is a general term for a type of treatment performed using the hands and is an important part of physical therapy. The roots of Des Moines University are in osteopathic medicine, which emphasizes the use of the hands to facilitate improvements in pain, range of motion, strength and sense of self. We believe human touch is an essential ingredient for healing, especially when combined with a plan of care that addresses the whole person.

Many professionals use manual therapy including physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and osteopathic physicians. Each profession defines and justifies the use of manual therapy a little differently, though the techniques are frequently the same. There are a variety of schools and types of manual therapy available for use, and our therapists are well trained in their applications:

  • Joint mobilization
  • Joint manipulation
  • Myofascial release
  • Muscle energy technique
  • Strain/counterstrain or positional release
  • Massage and other soft tissue techniques
  • Neural mobilization
  • Visceral mobilization
  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization
  • Trigger point specific techniques

We use all of these approaches at Des Moines University Physical Therapy Clinic, but what’s most important is that we select the technique that is most appropriate for you. Our physical therapists perform a careful evaluation of your condition, considering the evidence that supports an approach, our clinical experience and your personal preferences to determine the best combination of techniques that complement the plan of care.