Spinal mobilization refers to joint mobilization directed at a specific spinal segment or group of segments. Spinal motion can be limited due to several levels adapting to sustained or repeated postures called scoliosis, or a single spinal level not moving properly. During a spinal assessment, a physical therapist will determine which segment(s) limit motion or cause pain, and mobilize these segments of improving motion and pain.
Spinal mobilizations are graded similar to peripheral joint mobilizations. Spinal mobilizations will often have cavitation which is produced from a gas exchange when two joint surfaces are separated. This cavitation is accompanied by inhibition of tight and overworked muscles that will decrease their tone and allow for an improved ability to retrain weak muscles.