Manipulation is a technique that’s often used to help relieve pain and dysfunction in the body. It works by decreasing internal joint pressure, releasing pain relief chemicals, and changing mechanoreceptor afferent flow (how the brain communicates and allows movement at the joint). Contrary to popular belief, the “click” or “pop” sound often heard during this technique is not the bones coming into contact with each other, but rather gas leaving an area of the joint referred to as the capsule. This capsule encompasses where the joint permits its movement.
Sometimes part of the capsule can also become trapped/pinched within the joint space; this is particularly common in the neck and is often experienced as an uncomfortable “catching” sensation. Manipulation can help free the capsule, returning the joint to pain free normal range of motion.