What is manual therapy?

Chiropractic and Osteopathy both started in the USA  in the mid 1890’s.  Nurses in the UK formed the first Physiotherapy society around the same time.  In an era where mainstream medicine had moved away from manual therapy, the founders of these professions saw a need for an alternative to drugs, surgery and other invasive measures. All the manual therapies have their strengths and there’s a lot of crossover between the modalities. Effective management relies on accurate diagnosis after which a combination and approaches may be required. For some there may many ways towards recovery although for others just the right approach might be required. It can sometimes be confusing for patients to navigate the manual therapy landscape and find an appropriate solution for them.

Over the last hundred years, all of  the health professions have evolved. With hundreds of techniques aimed at treatments from head to toe, individual chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists will tend to vary in the way they practice and how they approach a given clinical situation. Chiro is Greek for hand and practic obviously rounds out the title to denote a manual practitioner. Osteo is a reference to bone and path to disease. Physiotherapy is pretty self explanatory. With evolution of the manual therapies they have probably become more similar rather than different as modern therapists who are evidence based embrace a range of strategies and treatment styles to suit the problem at hand.

In our practice we like to utilise  many techniques. At the end of the day it’s the result that’s important. To that end we like to measure outcomes over time and at the start and end of each session. Patients normally want to get rid of their pain. In most cases it’s improved function that paves the way to overcoming a painful condition. In the situation of a chronic or recurrent condition, instant fixes are rare. Long term problems normally require a long term solution. We also offer and refer to chronic pain recovery education and rehabilitation courses based on well accepted scientific evidence and believe this should be a common referral avenue for all practitioners who don’t offer such programs.

Analysis of posture, movement, reflexes, muscle tone and strength provide the chiropractor with information regarding the state of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

Ideally, clinic sessions should be kept to a minimum whilst managing a problem or condition. Progressive postural and physical rehabilitation in the form of home tasks, exercises and plans of action should accompany treatment to ensure the most effect is gained from each clinical session. Our functional rehabilitation approach is heavily influenced by the Prague School of Rehabilitation. Interestingly this could be considered a physiotherapy approach as their are no chiropractors or osteopaths in the Czech republic. In reality though it is steeped in manual medicine and practiced world wide by all varieties of manual medicine practitioners. It’s one of many examples how manual therapy should have more in common than we differ from each other when best practice evidence is applied.

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