Manual Therapy – Soft Tissue Mobilization

Manual therapy is a clinical approach utilizing specific hands-on techniques used by the physical therapist to diagnose and treat soft tissues and joint structures for the purpose of modulating pain. Manual therapy also seems to yield short-term results in regards to pain reduction. A systematic review is a type of literature review that collect and critically analyze multiple research studies or papers.

According to a 2010 systematic review by Miller, et. al, 17 controlled randomized trials looked at the efficacy of exercise and manual therapy on neck pain. These trials saw no long-term difference for (sub)acute/chronic neck pain.8 To summarize, massage therapy and manual therapy can be effective in reducing short-term pain, but the long-term effects on pain are poor if not nonexistent altogether.

ASTR treatment can provide you with the same short-term pain relief that these two methods offer, but the difference will be that long-term pain relief is apparent in ASTR treatment but not in massage or manual therapy. ASTR stands for Advanced Soft Tissue Release, a manual therapy specialty developed by Dr. Joesph Jacobs, DPT. ASTR takes a holistic approach to treating the source of soft tissue restriction in a way that is virtually pain-free and highly effective.


A systematic review of 14 studies, where 5 studies met the criteria, were examined by Young, et, al on how effective thoracic manipulation was for mechanical neck pain.33 The researchers found that there was no definitive clinical evidence supporting thoracic manipulation’s efficacy.33 The method did although, have short term effects in improving neck pain and the range of motion. However, further research is required to determine if this method has any long term effects on relieving mechanical neck pain.33






8. Miller J, Gross A, Dsylva J, et al. Manual therapy and exercise for neck pain: A systematic review. Manual Therapy. 2010;15(4):334-354. doi:10.1016/j.math.2010.02.007.




33. Young JL, Walker D, Snyder S, Daly K. Thoracic manipulation versus mobilization in patients with mechanical neck pain: a systematic review. J Man Manip Ther. 2014;22:141–153. doi: 10.1179/2042618613Y.0000000043.