Treating Pain without Medication – Part 2: Manual Therapy

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Often the power of manual treatments is minimized for two reasons.  One reason a feeling of vulnerability that arises in having another person work on areas that are hurting.  The other often is cost because for many manual therapies to work effectively they need to be done over an extended period of time and on a regular basis. However, there are a wide variety of treatments to explore and often no matter what your budget you can find something that works for you.

Manual Treatments worth exploring:

  1. Massage – Most people are familiar with massage, but often time or expense is the biggest barrier. Massage is often most effective when done in a series of treatments.  A well-trained massage therapist has a wide variety of techniques at hand to relieve and release tight muscles. While I highly recommend getting a massage by professional whenever you can, if you are strapped for cash try a little self-massage with Arnica gel on a nightly basis.  If you’re really motivated you can even try an App” “Massage Techniques” which available for download to your IPhone for a small fee. 


  1. Cupping – Cupping received much attention with the 2016 Olympics with the help of Michael Phelps. If you are able to put aside the dark circle marks that form on the skin with this treatment, it is actually excellent at alleviating muscle spam and tension. We offer cupping as an add-on to the acupuncture treatments we provide in our office, but home kits can be bought for those who find this treatment helpful and want to continue its use at home. 


  1. Scraping – Scraping is a manual technique that originated in Chinese medicine, but has found its way into massage and physical therapy. The “ATSYM” treatment that many physical therapists use to help tendon repair really has its origins in the scraping technique perfected by the Chinese. This technique uses the edge of a ceramic spoon to “work” the tendon areas.    This is also is a great self-treatment technique that can be taught for self-care and can help to breakup stubborn knotted tendon.


  1. Reflexology – Reflexology is the application of pressure to certain points in the body that seem to influence other areas of the body. This concept has been around for centuries and is often used in acupuncture, as well. Often reflexology is done in combination with other treatments such as massage, but it is also a great treatment that can be done on your own at home.  Seek out a practitioner familiar with the various reflexology maps on the body and have them show you different techniques to get these areas of the body working for you. 


  1. Reiki/Healing Touch – This is a more alternative manual technique that is really good for people who are sensitive to touch or whose pain has caused them to be hypersensitive. It is considered an energy-based treatment similar to acupuncture, but without needles. Practitioners consciously use their hands in an intentional way during a treatment that in theory manipulates the magnetic field around the body. 


  1. Rolfing – This is a more alternative manual technique in which the practioners work to manipulate the body’s fascial layers and combine this with active and passive movement retraining. If fascial layers are tight this can have some painful moments, but often people who respond well feel a satisfying release and subsequent improvement in their arc of movement in restricted areas.


  1. TENS Units – There are a variety of handheld units that deliver a wave or pulse therapy though pads that are attached to the skin. Through mechanisms not fully understood this pulse treatment appears to help dampen an overactive pain response and allow muscles to heal.  Home units are often available by prescription from your physician or physical therapist.


  1. Manipulation Therapy – Manipulation therapy actually can be done by a variety of providers. Most commonly chiropractic physicians come to mind first, but there are a variety of other providers who do manual manipulation as well including osteopathic physicians and physical therapists. I often encourage people to try a wide variety of different manual therapists, so experience different techniques to find the one that is right for them.

Optimize Your Health, Simplify Your Life,

Dr Sharyl Truty MD


Sharyl Truty

Dr. Sharyl has been engaged in family medicine, sports medicine and orthopedics for over fifteen years in many different capacities. She is the physician-owner of Balanced Physician Care, a holistic, direct primary care medical practice in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Her practice provides a unique solution for individuals and small business owners who are seeking answers to better healthcare.  She is Board Certified in Family Practice and has a Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine.  She was team physician for the Chicago Red Stars women’s professional soccer team, completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, and has received her acupuncture training at the UCLA physician certification program. She currently lives in Jacksonville Beach with her husband, Myke and 4-year-old son, Lukas.