What are Manipulation and Mobilization?
Both manipulation and mobilization are manual therapies used to free up restricted spinal segments and joints of the extremities. They each help relieve pain, regain functional movement, and to restore optimal range of motion.
A manipulation consists of a rapid application of pressure intended to realign spinal segments, similar to that often used by a chiropractor. Mobilization, on the other hand, consists of lower velocity controlled movements of a joint segment. This treatment can be applied on the spine, or the joints of the extremities.
How does it work?
Joint manipulation is often associated with a "pop", however research has shown that the cavitation itself does not have to be achieved to benefit from the procedure. Joint manipulation relieves pressure, discomfort, and increases mobility of the spine and extremities.
Joint mobilization consists of maneuvering a joint continually, at a variety of speeds, and with varying amounts of pressure applied. These movements can range from slowly stretching a joint, to a faster, targeted movement. However, due to the desired effect of the treatment, mobilization is generally lower velocity than a manipulation. Mobilization is intended to restore optimal range of motion and functionality to the joint.
Why do we utilize mobilization and manipulation in our treatment plans?
Restoring spinal and joint function is an essential component of the physical therapy process. We utilize both of these proven treatment methods with the goal of correcting dysfunction, restoring range of motion, and relieving pain as efficiently as possible.
Manipulations and mobilizations are always performed in conjunction with other interventions and never independently. These treatments address the dysfunction, but not necessarily the cause of the dysfunction, which must be addressed to achieve an improved functional movement pattern.