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Joint Mobilizations

There are multiple contributors to decreased joint mobility and joint pain. Sometimes it is the result of muscle function, but frequently the joint itself is the cause of abnormal movement patterns that result in dysfunction and pain. A skilled clinician can determine the quality of joint mobility and address restrictions with joint mobilization.

What are joint mobilizations?

Joint mobilization is a type of skilled manual therapy performed by a physical therapist that specifically involves moving the joints around in their natural range of motion to improve range of motion and reduce pain.

The therapist will use their hands to apply gentle, slow movements to the affected joint where they stabilize one section of a joint while applying manual pressure to a nearby section to improve joint function. Joint mobilizations can be performed at different magnitudes and different speeds to create different amounts of impact to the targeted joint.  It is performed based on the patient’s tolerance, medical diagnosis, comorbidities and the patient always retains the ability to stop the movement if they feel discomfort. These movements are usually repeated several times during the session depending on the goals of the therapist and the needs of the patient..

When is joint mobilization employed?

Joint mobilization can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including joint pain, muscle stiffness, mechanical dysfunction, and reduced range of motion. The goal of joint mobilization is to increase the flexibility, return normal arthrokinematics, and improve range of motion of the joints, as well as to reduce pain and inflammation. Research has illustrated that patients with all cause shoulder pain who are treated with a combination of joint mobilizations had decreased pain and they served as substitutes for NSAIDs and other pain killers.

It is commonly used to treat knee arthritis, low back pain, neck pain, elbow pain, wrist fractures and ankle sprains. It is also beneficial for post-operative rehabilitation to reduce pain, increase motion and hasten recovery. Joint mobilizations are important to promote fast and efficient recovery after injury and surgery.

Is joint mobilization safe?

Joint mobilizations are a safe and effective treatment. A trained clinician must use their clinical experience, knowledge and judgment to apply the appropriate joint mobilization for the patients specific condition.  There are some risks associated with the procedure, such as joint dislocation or fracture particularly in patients with osteoporosis or other bone problems.  However, these risks are mitigated by accurate application of the clinical guidelines for patient care. Other conditions where joint mobilization may create risks include disc herniation, compression of the spinal cord, infections, advanced arthritis, e risks are typically low, but it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider before starting treatment.

Joint mobilization is a standard physical therapy technique that offers benefits in improvements and normalization of joint function, decreases in pain and improved range of motion.

Schedule a consultation

The team of physical therapist at CAO Sports Performance & Physical Therapy are well trained and experienced in Joint Mobilizations. Schedule a physical therapy appointment to learn more about Joint Mobilizations and it’s benefits. We have physical therapy offices in California, Leonardtown, and Waldorf, Maryland.

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