Manual therapy is a field of physiotherapy dealing with motor system disorders through the improvement of the patient's body biomechanics. The term stands for diagnosis and treatment with the use of the therapist's hands. Modern manual therapy, as a medical field of study, is a specialisation with the 150-year history, it actually originated in antiquity. In Poland, manual therapies are often confused with the so-called chiropractic. Doctors of Chiropractic are people with no medical education. A vast majority of them lacks even an elementary knowledge about anatomy. On the flip side, however, they know the manipulative techniques (adjustments). Nevertheless, they are not able to predict when such a therapy is contraindicated. There will always be a group of patients requiring further diagnosis, a follow-up visit or even a surgery. When the therapy is taken despite the contraindications, it threatens a patient`s life.

Worldwide, manual therapy involves physiotherapists and doctors with appropriate, post-graduate education in this field. Frameworks of such an educational program were prepared by the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) in the 1970s and are updated every few years on the basis of scientific researches. This is a postgraduate education providing 1000 hours of training within 6-7 years. According to IFOMPT, the standards in this field of study are the same in the United States, Australia and Europe. Such a long time of further education is required to help patients in a safe and an effective way. There are following fields related to the manual therapy, for instance, osteopathy and chiropractic. In Norway, the therapist is educated in accordance with the IFOMPT standards, still having a lot of independence. Furthermore, s/he is the first person to contact with in the event of any problems with motor system. In this way, diagnostic and therapeutic solutions are shortened because the vast majority of patients will be able to examined by this therapist. If such a solution is impossible, the group is directed to a particular medical specialist for further assessment.

What does the diagnosis and treatment look like?

The test begins with an interview and symptoms analysis. The problem can be related to the joint, muscle, nerve, or all of these structures simultaneously. That is why, the next element is neurological and manual examination to selectively evaluate where the problem is. When performing the treatment, we do not concentrate on the same symptoms but on the disorders that may be the cause. A great advantage of this form of therapy is searching for and treating the cause, not just the effect. The goal of the therapist is to improve the patient's body biomechanics. The tools used for this purpose are articular techniques (mobilizations and manipulations of joints), myalgic techniques (relaxation, stretching), and neural techniques, known as neuromobilization. Integral parts of the therapy are exercises and training. After each visit, patient receives recommendations for exercises which should be done and what activities are allowed.