Manipulation therapy

. September 6, 2012.

Our bodies are intricately designed to function like well-oiled machines, with individual parts and systems constantly working together. By using manipulation therapy, physicians can support the connectivity of the body with a hands-on approach.

Doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs, are specially trained in manipulation therapy, although some DOs may not offer it as part of their services. Other healthcare professionals, such MDs and physical therapists may also be trained or certified to practice these techniques.

With manipulation therapy, your doctor looks at your condition in a broader scope, considering the body as a whole when recommending treatment. Then, using manipulation, massage or pressure techniques, they help improve your body’s function. Some of the techniques are the same or similar to those used by other healthcare professionals, including physical therapists.

Manipulation therapy is safe for everyone, including children. And techniques can be modified for your specific needs. For instance, very subtle movements or pressure point manipulation may be used for those who are frail due to surgery. And techniques can be altered so that you can continue therapy at home.

Manipulation therapy is an additional way for doctors to improve wellness and is often used to complement medicine or other treatments. In some cases, it may help reduce the dosage or length of time medication is needed.

So what types of conditions can benefit from manipulation therapy? You may be surprised by just how wide the range is. Here are some of the most common conditions that can benefit from manipulation therapy:

Body aches

If your profession requires that you constantly bend or sit at a desk for an extended amount of time, you may be one of many who suffer from neck and back pain. Your body has many layers, including muscles, ligaments and fascia, a fibrous connective tissue. Through manipulative therapy, a doctor can massage and open up these layers, realign your body and help relieve swollen tissue.

Your doctor may also relieve pain by manipulating other areas of the body that are connected. For instance, wrist manipulation may help alleviate shoulder pain, as the parts of the arm and shoulder are all connected.

Relieving neck and back pain through manipulation therapy may be especially beneficial for individuals, such as pregnant women, who cannot take or must limit their use of
anti-inflammatory medications.

Ear and sinus infections

Ear and sinus infections are often caused by viruses that thrive where conditions are moist and inflamed. By manipulating the sinuses or infected areas, your doctor can reduce inflammation and help get the fluid moving. This can relieve head and ear pressure, speeding recovery.

Sometimes, with infections, the relief from the manipulation therapy may only be temporary. Exercises throughout the day can help keep the inflammation down and alleviate symptoms.


Bronchitis is the inflammation of the air passages to the lungs. Similar to ear and sinus infections, the inflammation of the air passages causes fluid to become stagnant, making the condition worse. Your doctor may use a therapy technique called a thoracic pump with rib raising to free bronchial secretions so they may be easier to cough up. This may reduce inflammation, move fluid and help the body heal.

Other conditions

Manipulation therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions, particularly those relating to the muscles, tissues and skeletal system. Other common conditions that benefit from this treatment include carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ syndrome (inflammation of the temporomandibular joint), plantar fasciitis (inflammation of foot tissue) and mild cases
of constipation.

A doctor of osteopathic medicine may help you alleviate pain and promote healing immediately or long-term through manipulation therapy performed in the office or at home.

Dr. Singh is a ProMedica Physician with WellCare Physicians Group. For more information, please visit