Manual therapy (sometimes called bodywork) is a general term for treatment performed mostly with the hands. The goals of manual therapy include relaxation, decreased pain, and increased flexibility.
Manual therapy can include:
Massage. Pressure is applied to the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles. Massage can help relax muscles, increase circulation, and ease pain in the soft tissues.
Mobilization. Slow, measured movements are used to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint and help with flexibility and alignment.
Manipulation. Pressure is applied to a joint. It can be done with the hands or a special device. The careful, controlled force used on the joint can range from gentle to strong, and from slow to rapid.
Medical Review:William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine