What is manipulation under anesthesia (MUA)?

Manipulation under anesthesia is soft tissue mobilization, passive stretching, and traction procedures performed while a patient is under sedation. Anesthesia is used to reduce pain, muscle spasms, and reflex guarding that may interfere with manual therapies while awake and alert.

MUA treatment may be recommended to relieve chronic pain when other treatments have not worked. It is also used to break up internal scar tissue, relieve pain, and improve range of motion. MUA treatment is a non-invasive outpatient procedure that is highly effective for:

  • Ankle pain
  • Back pain
  • Chronic sprain/strain
  • Disc problems
  • Failed back surgery syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Headaches + Migraines
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Neck pain
  • Pinched nerves
  • Other joint pain

Manipulation under anesthesia is not well known but has been practiced for decades. The MUA procedure is often covered by insurance because it is a viable alternative to surgery or dependence on opioids.

What should I expect from a MUA treatment?

Before the day of your treatment, we will often already have consulted with you regarding manipulation under anesthesia procedure. Depending on the patient, we may recommend up to 3 consecutive days of MUA treatments for the best results. The procedure usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

On the day of your treatment, you will be prepared by our team of doctors of chiropractic medicine and registered nurse anesthetists. The anesthesia is mild, providing a conscious sedation or “twilight state.” This is opposed to general anesthesia where a patient is completely unconscious. The sedative you receive for MUA is similar to what you might receive and experience for oral surgery.

While you are in this state, you will be gently mobilized, stretched, and adjusted according to established and proven MUA protocols. This method, including spinal MUA, makes manipulation possible where traditional chiropractic care or physical therapy may not have worked for you. After the procedure, the patient is taken to the recovery room before being discharged home to rest. A prescription anti-inflammatory may be prescribed to assist in recovery.

Note that you will not be allowed to drive following this procedure. Please make arrangements with a friend or family member to drive you home after the procedure. Or make arrangements with us to provide you with patient transportation.

What happens after the procedure?

Post-MUA care may include 3 to 8 weeks of active rehabilitation with manual therapy, including spinal manipulation and other modalities. It is very important for you to also commit to the aftercare to maximize the overall success of manipulation under anesthesia.

After 1 to 3 days of rest, you will return to your BackFit clinic for a customized rehab program, potentially including:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Home exercise education
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy

The post-MUA therapy program helps maintain the results achieved during the MUA procedure. A regimented program will help you regain both pre-injury strength and help prevent future pain and disability.

If you suffer from chronic pain, you may be a candidate for manipulation under anesthesia (MUA).

Ask our BackFit doctors to see if you qualify.

Woman receiving Manipulation under anesthesia in a chiropractic center in Phoenix.

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