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How joint mobilization and manipulation by a Physical Therapist can help your low back pain

by | Feb 21, 2018 | General Info

How joint mobilization and manipulation by a Physical Therapist can help your low back pain

Written by:

Ann-Marie Chesterfield, DPT, OCS


What is the difference between joint mobilization and manipulation?

-A joint manipulation or thrust technique, is a high velocity, low amplitude movement.  The thrust brings the joint beyond its physiologic barrier.  Often there will be an audible “pop” (cavitation), but the “pop” is not necessary for normal motion to be restored or for pain relief.

-A joint mobilization is slower, graded, passive motion that moves within the physiologic ROM.  This type of motion is less aggressive and can be oscillatory, progressively loading, or sustained.  


How do mobilization and manipulation of the spine help to decrease pain?


-Can release/free a mechanical block that is restricting normal joint motion.  

-Improve ROM resulting in less pain in restrictive directions.

-Improve motion and mechanics of an area of the spine where a nerve, blood vessel, meniscoid may be being impinged upon.

-Decreasing nociceptive input

-By normalizing joint mechanics, stress on bones is decreased and muscle function improves.


Common types/names of mobilizations


-Maitland and McKenzie

-Mulligan, mobilization with movement

-Functional mobilization

-Traction and distraction

-Thrust techniques


Our Physical Therapy team at Minnetonka utilizes both mobilization and manipulation techniques as indicated by examination findings.  While these techniques are appropriate for many patients, for some people they may be contraindicated (certain diagnosis’, hypermobility, etc.).  There are many other manual (hands-on) techniques that are utilized for the ultimate goal of returning to a person’s prior level of function.

To Learn More or Schedule an Appointment Contact us at our Minnetonka Odom Health & Wellness Clinic:


or email at