Spinal manipulation aka "Back Cracking"



What is 'Spinal Manipulation' or a 'HVT' technique?


These terms refer to a group of treatment techniques that are used commonly amongst therapists such as Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Manipulative therapists.


Manual therapists refer to these ‘cracks’ as spinal manipulation or something called a HVT technique (high velocity thrust). The cracking or popping sound that you hear is in-fact the pressure changing inside the joint capsule and small bubbles of nitrogen gas in the synovial fluid bursting. It often happens naturally as we move around so if you roll over in bed and hear a few clunks, it's nothing to worry about. Most joints in the body can be manipulated but most commonly in practice it’s a technique used on the spine.


Cracking your joints, generally speaking, is not dangerous so long as the joint is healthy and it is a pain free experience. It’s a myth that this causes damage to the joint and there is no direct link to arthritis, however, it is possible that repetitive manipulation of the same joint could eventually result in the joint becoming hypermobile/unstable which may cause problems. By loosening a joint or a region and creating this instability you could be tightening neighbouring joints without realising, this may lead to discomfort and restrictions further down the line. It's probably best to leave the HVT's to the trained professionals who can assess which areas need treatment and then target these joints specifically. HVT's are usually a small part of varied treatment plan that also involves soft tissue massage, stretching and joint articulation.


The aims of a HVT:

- Increase joint mobility

- Reduce pain

- Correct joint posture and alignment


Times where spinal manipulation is not appropriate and could be dangerous are:

- Fracture

- Severe arthritis

- Osteoporosis or bone fragility

- Disc herniation

- Joint instability or hypermobility

- Certain medications

- Certain neurological and autoimmune conditions

- High blood pressure or cardiovascular disease

- Cancer


With the above in mind, it’s is vital that you see a trained professional for these types of treatments as they are slightly stronger techniques and therefore do carry some risk if used in the wrong circumstances or performed incorrectly.


Both Phoebe and Liam at Burton Joyce Osteopathy are excellent therapists, both qualified to deliver HVT/Spinal manipulation as a part of their treatment plans. They are highly trained in diagnostics and will thoroughly screen all patients for any warning signs prior to hands on treatment to ensure we always deliver a safe and effective treatment.



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