Joint Mobilization / Manipulation refers to manual stretching techniques, performed by a Physical Therapist, in an attempt to improve the mobility of a joint.
Joint Mobilization can be performed on stiff peripheral joints such as the hip or elbow, and spinal joints to improve mobility and reduce pain. These techniques change the mobility of the tissues surrounding the joint. With few exceptions, these are always pain-free when performed properly.
Joint Manipulation is performed for similar reasons to mobilizations and can be very effective at improving mobility when performed by a skilled clinician. Manipulation is a term reserved for techniques that impart small, but quick movements that often result in an audible ‘popping’ sound called a joint cavitation.