Manual Therapy Sucks?

Manual Therapy Sucks.
Manual Therapy does nothing for the patient.
Manual Therapy is absolutely useless and shouldnt be used in a therapeutic context.

How often have we as physiotherapists heard this kind of thing trotted out in the past few years?
Yes, it makes a great twitter line, a good slogan on a t-shirt and a superb way of making people jump up and down and get riled up.
I suppose I’m here to say:
Manual therapy is not without benefit.

Someone wants comforting- what do we do? Immediately we are drawn to comfort them with spoken word, but also physically- with a hug, or with touch. In these covid times, it seems quite noticeable that a number of people are starved of human touch and compassion. It is a pretty big driver for some people.

If a patient comes in for a consultation and gets talked at for 15 mins or half an hour, or whatever, that’s all very nice. In some therapists books, this would be a win. We ask how we can change someones locus of control. How can we get them to be able to take care of themselves? Talk to them, let them understand how they can help themselves.
The problem here is that sometimes, the patient doesn’t just want to be listened to, or talked to, or shown exercises, they also want compassion and human touch.
Without this, they feel that they are not getting what they came for.

The simple act of touch is fairly powerful and ignoring that is something that some therapists do.
Yes, there are a whole load of outlandish claims of manual therapists, massage therapists, myofascial releasers etc etc. about what their various therapies do in terms of scar tissue, adhesions, movement, stretching etc….. Maybe they do- but the evidence shows that we can’t really say that with any certainty- quite the opposite in fact. However, what we do know is that human touch can help reduce blood pressure. We do know that it can reduce emotional stress, we do know that it can calm nerves and have all kinds of interesting (but subjective) effects on the nervous system.
Human touch can make people feel better. Is that a bad thing?
Well- ok, we don’t want these people to be reliant on massage or body work to make them feel better if it is being given on the NHS (it isn’t), but goodness me, isn’t our job as physiotherapists to make people feel better and be better?

Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.