Manual therapy, manipulative therapy, or manual & manipulative therapy encompasses the treatment of health ailments of various etiologies through 'hands-on', physical intervention.
Physical treatments includes massage, soft tissue mobilization, various connective tissue techniques, myofascial release, craniosacral techniques, mobilization of joints, joint manipulation, mobilization of neural tissue, visceral mobilization, and strain and counterstrain.
Manual therapy may be defined differently (according to the profession describing it for legal purposes) to state what is permitted within a practitioners scope of practice. Within the physical therapy profession, manual therapy is defined as a clinical approach utilizing skilled, specific hands-on techniques, including but not limited to manipulation/mobilization, used by the physical therapist to diagnose and treat soft tissues and joint structures for the purpose of modulating pain; increasing range of motion (ROM); reducing or eliminating soft tissue inflammation; inducing relaxation; improving contractile and non-contractile tissue repair, extensibility, and/or stability; facilitating movement; and improving function.
Alternatively, Korr (1978) described manual therapy as the "Application of an accurately determined and specifically directed manual force to the body, in order to improve mobility in areas that are restricted; in joints, in connective tissues or in skeletal muscles."