Manual therapy can be defined differently to state what is permitted within a practitioners scope of practice. Manual therapy is defined as a clinical approach utilizing specific hands-on techniques, including but not limited to manipulation/mobilization, to diagnose and treat soft tissues and joint structures for the purpose of modulating pain; increasing range of motion (ROM); reducing or eliminating soft tissue inflammation; inducing relaxation; improving contractile and non-contractile tissue repair, extensibility, and/or stability; facilitating movement; and improving function.
During formal training, Chiropractors are taught to diagnose joint and movement problems by differentiating the structures that are involved. That could be as simple as performing a manual test to determine if the ACL ligament in the knee has been torn; or as complicated as determining the structure that is responsible for the limited shoulder motion. Limits to shoulder motion and most joint movement problems can be caused by a myriad of issues including neurologic pathology, muscle shortening, ligamentous or tendon problems, bone spurs, pain, weakness, cartilage issues or joint capsule restrictions just to name a few.
Manual therapy may listed as Trigger Point Release, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, Muscle Energy Technique, Strain-Counterstrain, Active Release Technique, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Myofascial Release and others.