What is Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy?

The word “orthopedic” is an area in medicine dealing with bone and muscle disorders.

Manual refers to things related to hands.

When you put them together, “Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy” (OMPT) means a specialty in Physical Therapy using hands-on approach to treat bone and muscle problems.

Is it the Same as Massage?

Even though both massage and OMPT use hands as a tool, the skills and the knowledge involved is totally different.

It is comparable to say that a massage is a chiropractic treatment if you say OMPT is the same as massage.

Massage primarily targets on muscles and does not involve movements.

On the other hand, OMPT targets on joints and aims at movements. The movements can be physiological such as knee bent or accessory such as distraction. The techniques can be applied directly to the joint which is treated or use other body part as a lever to create movements at the target joint. Manipulation is a technique of OMPT.

What are the benefits of OMPT?

The mechanism behind the OMPT is still emerging but mostly agreed on is its neurophysiological effect.

OMPT is able to:

  • reduce muscle spasm
  • reduce pain and
  • to facilitate movement.

Most of the time, people seek physical therapy because of pain.  It is difficult to tolerate exercises at that early stage.  OMPT is a good technique to start with.

In fact, clinical practice guideline for physical therapy in a lot of body area lists manual therapy and exercises as the top recommended treatment.

What should I do?

Ask whether you are a good candidate for OMPT when you have therapy next time.  It is a specialty in physical therapy and requires post-graduate training.  The good news is that it is provided at Mettler Center! 


Peggy Hau, PT, MSc PT,  DPT  is a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy at Mettler Center. 

Call 217-398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist.