Spinal and Extremity Manipulation Fort Worth & Plano, TX

Spinal & Extremity Manipulation

What is spinal and extremity manipulation?

Spinal and extremity manipulation describes high velocity techniques that are meant to cause cavitation (popping) in the associated joints. It is different from types of “mobilization” which tend to be slower, more methodical, and with a greater prolonged force applied. Both techniques are appropriate at times within rehab settings. The therapist can use his or her hands and body to manipulate an affected joint with skilled application of force, direction, and amplitude. This creates a comfortable and safe technique for the patient.

Higher velocity manipulation has been researched extensively, and while there is still some grey area, we know that it can help alleviate pain through many mechanisms, including decreasing muscular tone, decreasing spasm, and helping joint structures move more freely. The speed and velocity of manipulation also create an environment that allows pain relief through altering excitability of local sensory nerves and other tissue receptors in muscles, tendons, and joint capsules. It can also affect pain by release of opioid-like chemicals both at the brain and spinal cord levels.

When used appropriately as an adjunct to other therapies it can greatly assist in decreasing pain and increasing range of motion for a variety of conditions.

What conditions can benefit from joint manipulation?

Sometimes, a joint can become irritated, swollen, and painful as a result of injury, stress, poor posture, repetitive movement, or even as a result of age-related wear and tear. When this happens, the joint may not move correctly and become stiff and painful. Nearby structures including muscles, tendons, and ligaments may become tense or injured as a compensatory effect of trying to support or stabilize the injured joint. This can lead to muscle weakness or even impingement and damage to nearby nerves.

Joint manipulation isn’t appropriate for all patients, and our skilled and experience physical therapists can determine if it’s right for you or a loved one. Specific conditions which our physical therapy team successfully manage with joint mobilizations include:

  • Arthritis (especially of the shoulder, spine, elbow, hip, and knee)
  • Rib Pain
  • Headaches
  • Medial or lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s or tennis elbow, respectively)
  • Ankle sprains
  • Sciatica and other types of nerve impingement syndromes
  • Facet joint locking and other types of decreased spinal movement
  • Whiplash

Joint issues are often the hidden underlying factors driving other types of injuries and ailments including muscle strains, ligament damage, and bursitis, so this is why we strongly encourage you to consult with a physical therapist with any type of acute or chronic dysfunction. Your joints could be contributing to your pain without you even realizing it!

What should I expect during a joint manipulation treatment with a physical therapist?

As always, anyone with acute or chronic joint pain will first be thoroughly examined on an initial examination. We’ll be assessing and evaluating everything from your range of motion, strength, coordination, pain level, posture, and even relative tissue tension and feel in order to help us devise an accurate diagnosis. Based on our exam findings, as well as the information we glean from questioning you about your current and past medical history, we’ll be able to devise a customized treatment plan to meet your unique needs. Since joint manipulation techniques have been shown to be effective for a variety of conditions, we very well may decide to implement this type of manual therapy in your plan of care.

To prepare for a physical therapy session with joint manipulation, be sure to wear comfortable clothes that you can move and stretch in. Your physical therapist will need to be able to see or at least easily palpate (feel) the specific joint he or she is manipulating. Your physical therapist will be sure to offer you clear details on how to position yourself during the session, what you should expect to feel, as well as what to do following your session in order to maximize effects and prevent recurring pain or dysfunction. To complement and optimize the effects of joint manipulations, we’ll also instruct you in additional services which may include therapeutic exercises for strengthening and range of motion, modalities, and postural and neuromuscular retraining.

Are you wondering if joint manipulation could help with your pain or stiffness? Contact us at ClearCut ORTHO Physical Therapy Specialists at Fort Worth & Plano, TX and our knowledgeable staff will help answer your questions, educate you about our wide range of Fort Worth physical therapy services, and schedule an appointment. Drug-free relief from your joint or muscle pain is possible, so get your healing journey started today.