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 of approaches may be required. It can sometimes be confusing for patients to navigate the manual therapy landscape.

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 vary in the way they practice. 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. The manual therapies have probably become more similar over time. Evidence based practitioners look for the best approach rather than being tied to a certain technique. For this reason many Chiro’s, Physio’s and Osteo’s often rely on methods traditionally aligned with a profession other than their own. Acupuncture and dry needling is popular with many manual therapists regardless of their qualification.

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.

Chronic pain recovery often requires education based on well accepted scientific principles.

Ideally, clinic sessions are be kept to a minimum. Self management is a treatment goal. Functional rehabilitation includes education of movement concepts. Our 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 when best practice is applied.



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