Are They the Same Thing?
Mobilization and manipulation are terms that have become interchangeable. The lack of a clear definition of these terms often results in communication problems and leads to misconceptions. These terms describe passive techniques, that is, maneuvers performed by physical therapists and other qualified health care providers. They may be applied to joints and related soft tissues at varying speeds and amplitudes (ranges) with the primary purpose of increasing joint mobility, normalizing joint functioning, and reducing pain. Mobilizations are graded, oscillatory techniques which move the joint within its physiologic range of motion, the voluntary range of motion available in a joint. However, a manipulation is a high-velocity, short amplitude (thrust) technique performed at the end of the physiologic barrier. Appropriate selection and safe application of these techniques require extensive training and knowledge of anatomy and pathology by a qualified therapist.
Paula Moreira, B.Sc., BMR.PT., MCISc.,
Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy