Spinal manipulation, also known as “High-Velocity Low-Amplitude Thrust” or “Spinal Manipulative Therapy,” is an ancient art and science tracing its origins to the earliest of medical practitioners. Spinal manipulation is unique compared with other manual therapy techniques in that the clinician applies a rapid impulse, or thrust, in order to achieve a gapping and subsequent cavitation of the target joint. Joint cavitation is accompanied by an audible release recognized as a “popping,” or “cracking,” sound. Spinal manipulation is used by physical therapists to:
Physical therapists do not perform “adjustments.” We do, however, utilize spinal and extremity manipulation, along with other manual therapy techniques and exercise, in the treatment of neuro-musculo-skeletal pain and dysfunction in order to restore mobility within these systems. We do not utilize manipulation to manage, co-manage, or prevent diseases or conditions in the other body systems. The physical therapist’s approach to treatment, whether utilizing spinal manipulation or another manual therapy, is predicated on identifying specific somatic dysfunction—in the spine, pelvis, or extremities—for the sole purpose of achieving clinical improvement within the neuromusculoskeletal system.