Guest Post – Manual Therapy Doesn’t Always Work, Here Are Some Reasons Why

Author: Dr. Scott Allin on 31 August 2021

Manual therapy is a great form of treatment for improving functional mobility and alleviating pain. My ideal treatment goal is to resolve a problem and I am often able to help people achieve this, but sometimes no matter how hard I try, I hit a wall. Some people's complaints either don't completely resolve or don't improve at all. I'm really good at mobilizing areas that are stiff or inflexible but that isn't always the reason why you are not moving properly or why you are in pain. Here are some possible reasons why what I'm doing isn't working:

Space Occupying Lesions:

Tumors, cysts, bony calluses, or even differences in your anatomy that
you were born with can cause a barrier to movement or put pressure on a nerve or artery and trigger a pain response. You need surgery and/or treatment that deals with the dysfunctional biochemical environment that caused them in the first place. I can't make those go away and I don't have the ability to determine their presence or absence.

Inflammatory Conditions:

Some examples include autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. I can't make those go away either and I'm certainly not able to definitively indicate when you have one. The ideal treatment resolves a
problem, but alternatively the goal of treatment can be to mitigate pain or immobility, even temporarily. If I know when someone has a diagnosed pathology, we can be more realistic with our treatment goals.


I can't make an active infection go away. If you have an active infection you need to get treatment from your Medical or Naturopathic Doctor depending on the type. Now once the infection is resolved, the aftermath of the inflammatory response can result in stiff and fibrotic adhesions within your body's tissues. These often cause dysfunctional adaptations both near and far from the infection site. By mobilizing and disengaging these tissues, I can often provide a profound improvement in your posture and functional mobility. This is why I like to inquire about infection history as part of a health history intake.


Smoking, drugs, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and inactivity all wreak havoc on your body's tissues. They also make it so that your body takes longer to heal and they make it harder for your body to tolerate manipulative therapy. Your body is very good at healing itself, but you have to give it a chance.

Bad Fit:

Sometimes for whatever reason I don't resonate positively with some people and they tense up during the treatment. Sometimes people have apreconceived notion of how their treatment should or needs to be applied and are not open to my unique and, admittedly, unorthodox treatment approach. As a result, I fail to meet their treatment expectations. Perhaps my treatment application or even my presence triggers a memory of a bad experience either consciously or subconsciously that makes them guarded. If that happens, that can either cloud my assessment or I'm unable to engage the area that needs to be corrected. In any case, it's nobody's fault. It just means that better treatment can be provided by someone else. Fortunately, there are plenty of other practitioners to choose from for your manual therapy needs.

By no means is this an exhaustive list but hopefully I've put into perspective that what I provide isn't a magic bullet. I'm really good at what I do, but what I do isn't necessarily what you need. The best practitioner is the practitioner that provides you with the treatment that works for you.

Scott is currently seeing patients:
Mondays 10am - 8pm
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 10am - 7pm
Fridays will remain unavailable until further notice.

Click here to book your appointment with Scott!

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Quinte Naturopathic Centre

173 Church Street

Belleville, ON K8N 3C1


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Tuesday 9am - 6pm

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