Joint Mobilization

By: Sharon Hopkins

How does it work?

Joint mobilization consists of small passive movements, usually applied as a series of gentle stretches in a smooth, rhythmic fashion to the individual joints. It involves moving the joints in such a way that a small movement of the actual bone surfaces takes place. Two or more adjacent bones are slowly moved in different directions. There's no fast thrusting, no sudden moves. Slower movement allows the joint to be taken further, to stretch and massage the connective tissue in and around the joint. This creates a deeper release, and more lasting changes.

In this way, joint mobilization improves mobility in areas that currently have less than normal movement. Tight muscles, stiff ligaments, or problems in the joints themselves may cause the decreased movement. If pain is associated with this decreased movement, loosening up the structure that causes the restriction can often relieve the pain. In addition, certain stretching and strengthening exercises are performed to prevent the pain from returning. Patients are also taught how to prevent the pain from re-occurring.

What are its benefits?

Any joint that is lacking sufficient motion may be mobilized. Joint mobilization can help in relieving pain and releasing tension from areas such as the head, neck, ankles, feet, pelvis, wrists, ribs, and spine. It is widely used to in the treatment of sports related injuries. Joint mobilization has also proven to be effective in treating movement impairment in physically challenged and the elderly. It is especially effective in the treatment of arthritic joints. Joint mobilization results in improved joint mobility & joint nutrition, decreased muscle spasms and tension and decreased pain in the affected areas.

Is it safe?

Joint mobilization is safe because it is done slowly and the patient has the opportunity to stop the procedure if it becomes uncomfortable. Prior to carrying out the actual procedure of mobilization, therapists perform a full assessment of the blood and nerve supply, bone and muscle, in the area to be mobilized. Overall, joint mobilization is a safe, gentle, and effective method of physical therapy.

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