Manual therapy, including joint mobilization and manipulation, is a Physical Therapy intervention designed to reduce pain and improve mobility. These interventions have been shown to accelerate a patient’s recovery compared to usual care or exercise alone. Although mechanisms behind its’ effectiveness are still being researched, manual therapy unique ability to reduce pain allows an individual to exercise at a higher intensity. Greater loading of the injured tendon accelerates a patient’s recovery and return to work and sport. A recent review of the literature highlights the benefits of manual therapy for patients with lateral elbow pain.
Lucado and colleagues reviewed 20 studies on the effectiveness of manual therapy applied either locally to the elbow or globally to the upper quarter in patients with lateral elbow pain (J Hand Ther. 2018). These techniques included mobilizations, mobilizations with movement, and manipulation. The authors found local elbow manual therapy treatments reduced pain and improved pain free grip strength in the short term. Regional manual therapy techniques applied to the upper quarter improved pain, grip strength, and function. The authors concluded there is compelling evidence for the utilization of manual therapy by Physical Therapists at all time points in a patient’s recovery from lateral elbow tendinopathies.