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Hands-On Physical Therapy – What Is It & How It Works

If you have a chronic condition or if you’ve been injured and are dealing with pain, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help restore your range of motion or alleviate the discomfort that you are feeling. But with so many approaches to physical therapy, it can be hard to determine which modality is right for you. 

Don’t worry! This is where are our team at Impact Med Zephyrhills comes in. Today, we discuss what hands-on physical therapy is and how it can work to help improve your range of motion and allow you to live pain-free. 

What is Hands-On Physical Therapy? 

Hands-on physical therapy is also known as orthopedic manual physical therapy (OMPT) and is defined as any hands-on treatment that you may receive from a physical therapist. 

This modality includes moving your joints into different directions at varying speeds to help you regain movement. You may also hear hands-on physical therapy referred to as joint mobilization and manipulation. 

Hands-on physical therapy also includes stretching muscles, passive movements of affected body parts, and even moving those affected body parts against resistance from a physical therapist. 

Learn More> Physical Therapy for Pain Management 

Machine-Free Physical Therapy 

Manual physical therapy is a highly specialized modality of physical therapy in which therapists use their hands to put pressure on muscles or to manipulate joints to decrease pain caused by joint dysfunction, tension, trauma, or spasms. 

Unlike many forms of physical therapy that employ the use of machines and other devices, hands-on, or manual physical therapy, does not use these tools. While machines and tools like ice and hot packs, ultrasounds, and weights can be useful, many physical therapists approach physical therapy with a more personalized approach to get a feel for what is happening with their patients’ joints and soft tissues. The best way to do so is to take a hands-on approach! 

How Hands-On Therapy Works 

Manual hands-on therapy works because it approaches pain from multiple fronts at once including:

  • Psychologically
  • Biochemically
  • Neurophysiologically
  • Mechanically 

When you come in for a hands-on physical therapy appointment, your therapist will stretch your muscles, joints, and ligaments which can help to alleviate pain and get you back to a full range of motion. Hands-on therapy can even break up the adhesions and scar tissue that often inhibit your range of motion over time. 

Hands-on physical therapy can even stop injury pain in the spinal cord in its tracks and other injury sites by activating the endogenous opiate system, known as the body’s “natural high” center. Hands-on physical therapy works your entire injury inside and out and ensures that you get a positive outcome from your work in therapy. 

For patients who have been in an accident or have suffered from a traumatic injury, hands-on therapy can be a great option to help soothe injured muscles, nerves, tendons, and scar tissues. Common conditions like arthritis, tennis elbow, post-surgery rehab, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even some neurological conditions can benefit greatly from physical therapy. 

Read More> How Do I Pick the Right Physical Therapist? 

Techniques Used in Hands-On Physical Therapy 

In hands-on therapy, there are many techniques that your physical therapist might employ to relieve pain and restore mobility throughout your entire body including:

  • Traction
  • Manual
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Active release 
  • Assisted active range of motion
  • Passive range of motion
  • Lymph drainage
  • Muscle, joint, fascia, and neural tissue stretching
  • Soft tissue mobilization 
  • Joint manipulation
  • Joint mobilization 

Choose Hands-On Care at Impact Med 

Here at Impact Med Zephyrhills, our physical therapy team is focused on helping every patient heal from the inside out, which involves using hands-on techniques and personalized physical therapy treatments. We believe that the best way to help you recover from a chronic condition or injury is through holistic care. 

Ready to get hands-on care from our physical therapy team? Call us today to schedule an appointment at our Impact Med Zephyrhills location—813-737-7965!