Manipulation is commonly associated with chiropractors and osteopaths, but in more recent years chartered physiotherapist have also studied and used these techniques to help improve their treatment of certain conditions.
Manipulation involves a high speed / low force thrust of a joint (most commonly spinal joint), which results in cavitation "popping". This leads to an immediate increase in the flexibility of that joint and often an associated decrease in pain. The effect of the manipulation can be greatly reinforced by combining other treatments (see exercise prescription).
Mobilisations have been used by physiotherapists for many years. This involves the graded stretching of joints (spine or limbs) with rhythmical repeated passive (performed by the therapist) movements. It ranges from a light to very heavy pressure. The force used by the physiotherapist will be determined by the irritability of the condition. This technique is also used to decrease pain and increase the flexibility of joints.
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