What is osteopathic manipulation?

Osteopathic Manipulation of the Upper BackOsteopaths often ‘manipulate’ the spine. But what does this mean?

The small spinal joints are called “facet joints” and should ideally move uniformly at every segment of the spine to create fluid movement. Injured facet joints often do not move as well as they should, and vice versa, if an area of the spine is chronically stiff these facets may then become irritable and painful as a result. If this is the case for some time then other areas of the spine or even other joints of the body have to overwork to find the movement to compensate, potentially leading into a vicious circle of yet more pain and stiffness.

Manipulation can help to address this by quickly getting stiff joints to move better and therefore improving overall function. It is a safe and effective form of treatment when performed by a professional, it should not be painful and often a ‘click’ is heard and felt when it is performed, sometimes described by patients as “a bit like clicking your knuckles”!

Manipulation has many benefits including:-

  • Reducing stiffness in the spinal joints therefore improving range of movement.
  • Reducing muscle spasm and inflammation – especially for those times when the back ‘goes’ or ‘locks’.
  • Helps reduce any scar tissue surrounding a spinal joint that has been strained for a long time.

Manipulation forms only a small part of our overall treatment plan and it is not suitable for everyone. We therefore always take a thorough case history from every patient before treating them to make sure their spine is healthy enough for joint manipulation (having osteoporosis for example may be one reason to avoid this form of treatment). If manipulation is not indicated, or the patient would simply prefer not to have this form of treatment there are still many other techniques we can use towards creating better and more uniform movement throughout the spine.

If you would like to know more, or have any other enquiries about osteopathy and how it may benefit you, don’t hesitate to get in touch by phone, email or using the form on the contact us page.

Thanks for reading!


What is osteopathic manipulation? was last modified: January 9th, 2017 by Linda Canning