PT360 Physical Therapy

What is Physical Therapy?


From athletes to persons experiencing back, knee, neck or other forms of pain, the profession of physical therapy treats a multitude of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.  Physical Therapy has evolved over the last century, treating problems more successfully than ever before.

Treatment up through the 1940's primarily consisted of exercise, massage, and traction.  Manipulative procedures to the spine and joints began to be practiced in the early 1950's.  Now Physical Therapy practice combines manipulative therapy with exercise, and is practiced in settings such as in-patient hospitals, out-patient clinics, rehabilitation centers, orthopedic clinics, colleges/universities, and geriatric settings.  Below are some terms to familiarize you with physical therapy techniques.

What is Manual Therapy?

This is a clinic approach utilizing skilled, specific hands-on techniques that may include manipulation of muscles, deep tissue, and joints.  This technique is used to diagnose and treat for the purpose of modulating pain, increasing range of motion, reduce tissue inflammation and repairing stability, facilitation of movement and improving function.

What does Mobilization / Manipulation Mean?

Mobilizations and Manipulations can be used on the spine for structural mis-alignments.  Mobilizations are forced movements to the spine within the joints range of motion.  This is performed by a therapist who will isolate a specific segment in the spine and apply force to create movement where the joint is stuck.  Mobilizations are less agressive than manipulations.  A manipulation is a high velocity thrust force to the spine which takes the joint past it's end range and usually produces a popping noise.

What does Soft Tissue Mobilization / Myofascial Release Involve?

Soft tissue mobilization can be employed in muscle release by breaking fascial tightness between muscles.  Specific manual force is used in breaking fascial restrictions, which helps lengthening of muscle tissue through manual work.  Myofascial release is similar, but targets a larger tissue area as opposed to a very localized restriction.


In Michigan, if you believe that physical therapy would be beneficial, you may be screened and evaluated by a physical therapist. However, in order to implement a plan of treatment, you must obtain a referral from your physician.  Michigan is one of three states that still requires a physician's referral in order to receive treatment.  In all other states, patients wishing to receive treatment may do so by direct access.  Direct access is a term used to describe the ability for the public to visit a physical therapist without a physician referral.  However, many insurance companies still require a physician's co-signature recommending treatment or if treatment is to continue beyond a 60 day treatment period.

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