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Joint manipulation is a type of passive movement of a skeletal joint. It is usually aimed at one or more “target” synovial joints with the aim of achieving a therapeutic effect. Manipulation is intended to improve the function of a joint.
Joint manual manipulation releases the restricted joint movement by improving biomechanical and neurological function, thus:
1) Restores normal motion to the joints of spine/extremities
2) Relaxes tight muscles
3) Improves coordination
4) Inhibits pain
What Makes The Sound During The Manipulation?
Joint manipulation is characteristically associated with the production of an audible ‘clicking’ or ‘popping’ sound. This sound is believed to be the result of a phenomenon known as cavitation occurring within the synovial fluid of the joint. When a manipulation is performed, the applied force separates the articular surfaces of a fully encapsulated synovial joint. This deforms the joint capsule and intra-articular tissues, which in turn creates a reduction in pressure within the joint cavity. In this low pressure environment, some of the gases that are dissolved in the synovial fluid (which are naturally found in all bodily fluids) leave solution creating a bubble or cavity, which rapidly collapses upon itself, resulting in a ‘popping’ sound. The contents of this gas bubble are thought to be mainly carbon dioxide.
In other words, lubricating fluids separate the bones of each joint. Some adjusting methods can produce a sound when the gas and fluids in the joint shift. It is much like the ‘pop’ from opening a bottle of champagne. The sound is interesting, but it is not a guide to the quality or value of the manipulation.