Joint manipulation is a type of passive movement of a skeletal joint. The aim of joint manipulation is to deliver a specifically directed force to a joint at the end of its range of motion (often accompanied by an audible click).
It is widely accepted that this ‘click’ comes as a result of an air bubble, formed when pressure in the joint changes from low to high in a process we call cavitation. Joint manipulations are used to improve the range of movement of a joint whilst restoring blood flow and reducing muscular tension.
Mobilisation simply means movement and can be used as a therapy for both joint or soft tissue injuries. Joint mobilisations can be used in a similar way to manipulation to more gradually move skeletal joints through a certain range of movement with similar therapeutic effects.
This depends on the severity of the injury and can be used where manipulations are not appropriate. We often use soft tissue mobilisations to move and manipulate muscle, ligament and tendon to encourage blood flow and tissue compliance which helps to speed up recovery.