J Korean Orthop Assoc.  2020 Feb;55(1):29-37. 10.4055/jkoa.2020.55.1.29.

History and Concept of Manual Therapy

  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Seoul Sacred Heart General Hospital, Seoul, Korea. msh124@paran.com


Manual therapy has undergone parallel development throughout many parts of the world dating back to ancient times for at least 2,500 years. The earliest historical reference to the practice of manual therapy in Greece, dates back to 400 B.C. Over the centuries, manual medicines have fallen in and out of favor with the medical profession. To truly understand the principle, it is important to know that manual therapy was initially the mainstay of the three leading alternative health care systems, osteopathy, chiropractic, and most notably physical therapy. These were all founded in the latter part of the 19th century in response to the shortcomings in allopathic medicine. Although it has been around for a long time and has been used all over the world, there are a few reports on manual therapy treatment, and most papers provided a low level of evidence. Despite the controversies over manual therapy, its use appears to be increasing gradually. This article reviews the history of manual therapy from ancient times to the present including Korean history, discusses the current state of knowledge on manual therapy, and informs physicians who manage musculoskeletal pain.


manual therapy; history; osteopathy; chiropractic
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