Joint mobilization, performed by a physical therapist, is a gentle and safe alternative to joint manipulation, performed by a chiropractor. Joint mobilization is done when a bone, or individual vertebrae, is moved in order to release painful tension, stiffness, chronic pain, and in some cases to improve the range of motion of a joint..
The mobilizations themselves are performed by a practitioner in various pressures for example grade one mobilizations are gentle movements meant to initiate a full range of movement, grade two mobilizations are applied with slightly more pressure for pain relief, and grade three mobilizations are a little more intense in order to relieve pain and improve a joints range of motion. Finally, grade four mobilizations are rather intense stretches meant to relieve tension in chronically damaged joints.
The actual joint mobilization is performed to improve mobility in areas that currently have a limited range of motion due to any type of strain, stiffness, tightness, injury, paralysis or chronic pain. The most common joint mobilization is performed on the neck, when its rotated to its full range of motion and then back in sudden thrusts.
The client must remain calm and loose as the mobilization is performed, as often its accompanied by a pop when the tension is released in the joint (similar to the sound when the knuckles are cracked). A joint manipulation is often followed by a feeling of release.
Joint mobilization strokes consist of basic and advanced mobilizations, thrusts, as well as traction and gliding mobilizations. After the mobilization portion of the therapy is complete, complimentary treatments - such as certain stretching and strengthening exercises - are sometimes recommended as a preventative measure.
If you book an appointment for joint mobilization, the physical therapist will perform a consultation before starting therapy. During the consultation the therapist will assess your blood, nerve supply, bone and muscles in the afflicted area. Its important for the therapist to conduct this initial consultation in order to decide if joint mobilization is safe.
Joint manipulation is typically safe to perform on most painful joint injuries, such as arthritis, however a professional should assess each patient before treatment commences.