Oakland Manual Therapy vs. Massage Therapy

Have you been prescribed manual therapy in Oakland for your injury? This article explains what’s the difference between manual therapy and massage therapy and which works best for injury?

The terms manual therapy and massage therapy get tossed around interchangably, but it can be important to really focus in on the differences so that you can best choose which is going to help you resolve an injury. From an insurance perspective (which is an influential perspective but not the only perspective), manual therapy (CPT code 97140) includes all of the following:

Connective tissue massage

Joint mobilization and manipulation

Mobilization of the nervous system

Manual lymphatic drainage

Manual traction

Passive range of motion.

According to the CPT code definition for code 97140, manual therapy providers use hands-on techniques during treatment. So as you can see, massage falls under the umbrella of manual therapy, but a manual therapist can offer a wider-spectrum of therapies.

If you are in need of manual therapy in Oakland, we offer the full spectrum of hands-on therapies listed above. In addition to that, we also offer several instrument or tools assisted therapies (IASTM) to help you breakdown the tightness in your muscles and fascia to restore normal tone and function. You can book your manual therapy session on demand HERE.

You may find yourself wondering about the mechanisms of how manual therapy in Oakland works. There are no clear-cut answers, but there are several proposed mechanisms.

How manual therapy works:

Neurophysiological: Manual therapy produces an inhibitory effect on the nervous system. Releasing the built-up tightness in muscles and connective tissues changes the brain’s perception of pain by altering the pain pathways. It also relaxes the nervous system, so that your brain can make more intelligent movement choices from a calm state.

Biomechanical: Manual therapy creates short-term change in the pliability of our soft tissues, it improves range of motion, and it corrects positional faults. Muscle firing is increased because the muscle spindle’s mechanism gets reset with manual therapy, much like your buggy phone or laptop starts working properly again following a reboot.

Psychological: A manual therapy session may offer some of these benefits depending on how patients view and respond to care.

There is strong evidence in the literature to support the therapeutic use of manual therapy, including several articles showing a positive effect of manipulation/mobilization in acute low back pain. (Ann Intern Med 1992;117(7):590-598) and again in the Physical Therapy journal 1992 (Article on Efficacy of Manual Therapy). More recent articles show strong evidence that combining corrective or functional therapeutic rehab exercises with manual therapy give the best results in reducing pain and returning to activity. Kinesiotaping is also helpful to help re-activate the nervous system once it has been reset by manual therapy.


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