What is Manipulation and why do osteopaths use it?

Manipulation is quite a general term and means different things to different practitioners. Osteopaths tend to use it to mean the use of High Velocity Thrust techniques (HVT) where a specific joint is put under tension and then subjected to a fast, accurate force which may produce a click or pop.

This is often interpreted by patients as being ‘when the osteopath put my disc back in’ but actually it is no such thing. The click is actually caused by gas being released into the joint space (rather like a suction cup being pulled off a table). We use it to improve the mobility of the joint and cause reflex relaxation of the surrounding muscles.

The HVT itself should not be painful but may involve you being placed in an awkward position for a short period and a bit of pressure from the osteopath’s hands or body. Afterwards patients often report a sensation of ease and greater mobility as restricted joints are freed up.

In practice we do not use HVT techniques on everyone as they may carry an element of risk but for certain conditions they can be safe and effective as part of a whole treatment plan.

© Justine Knowles 2010