Getting Handsy: What You Need To Know About Manual Physical Therapy

manual therapy jacksonville fl

Let’s talk about what manual therapy is and what it isn’t. Manual therapy and massage therapy are often used interchangeably because both provide hands-on treatment, but each is distinct from the other. 

Our physical therapists (PT) deliver manual therapy directly by hand instead of using a device or machine. They use skilled hand movements to passively move your joints and soft tissues to improve the mobility and function of your body.

Massage therapy helps you feel better overall by using passive techniques to help you reduce your stress and tension and brings calmness to your body. Massage offers a variety of techniques, including but not limited to lifting, squeezing, stroking, and kneading.

Also, your insurance provider categorizes and pays for these modalities differently.

Manual Therapy Myth Busting

There are a lot of misconceptions about manual therapy that we want to address. Below are some of the most popular myths about manual therapy that simply aren’t true.

#1: You have to hurt to feel better.

Pain is a warning signal or your brain’s way of waving a red flag to let you know danger is coming. You are moving in a way your brain has determined will cause you more harm, whether it will or not. Just because you see professional athletes push through pain, doesn’t mean you should too. They have top-notch care and facilities to treat their injuries, while you may not. 


#2: If you’re not injured then you don’t need PT.

You brush your teeth every day to avoid cavities. You don’t wait for cavities to form, and then start brushing your teeth! Do the same with your muscles. Treat them daily with care through proper diet and exercise. Get assessed by your physical therapist with regular wellness checks to catch potential problems before they become an issue. Preventative care is less expensive than treating a dysfunction. Reactive care will cause you to lose more time, money, and peace of mind.


#3: You need a referral to see a PT.

In the state of Florida, you have direct access to physical therapy care. Direct access means that you can walk into a physical therapy clinic and schedule to work with a physical therapist for 30 days without a referral. You don’t need to come with a prescription. After 30 days, you need a practitioner of record or an advanced registered nurse practitioner to review and sign a prescription for continued physical therapy care. Practitioners of record who can sign for additional physical therapy include:

  • Medical doctors
  • Physician assistants
  • Osteopathic physicians
  • Chiropractors
  • Podiatrists
  • Dentists


#4: You’ll be healed after one manual therapy session.

Skin, ligaments, muscles, and bones all require different times to heal properly. While muscles can take a few weeks to heal, ligaments can take months! Your physical therapist will adjust the type, frequency, and duration of manual therapy provided to treat the underlying issue the injury presents at the time of treatment. And each session’s technique changes as your tissues heal and adapt.


Make The Move To Manual Therapy

Don’t wait too long to address your dysfunction! As your tissues change over time, they will adapt to their “new normal,” and then you will have to manage chronic pain issues. Adding manual physical therapy to your care will help to reduce your pain, increase your joint range of motion, improve blood flow to the injured tissues, and help reduce inflammation. Manual therapy is a great way to get you back to your life without restriction.


Leave a Reply

Smart Body PT