Joint mobilization is a “hands on” physical therapy technique commonly used in a clinical setting to improve the range of movement of a joint in order to lessen stiffness and pain. The technique involves small movements performed by the physical therapist in an oscillating manner on the joints,
Before commencing joint mobilization, the physical therapist will determine if it is a necessary treatment by assessing the joint range of movement both actively (the patient performs the movement) and passively (the physical therapist feels for stiffness and pain by moving the joint). Any joint which presents with pain or stiffness can be treated with mobilization except in rare instances such as where there is malignancy, bone infection, spinal cord compression or unhealed fracture.
There are different grades of mobilization used to treat various conditions. Where there is significant local pain and inflammation, gentle mobilization is used (Grade 1 or 2) to help with pain relief and reduce inflammation by promoting movement. In conditions where there is not much pain but rather the main problem is joint stiffness, then a more vigorous mobilizing technique (Grade 3 or 4) can be used to help restore full range of movement.
There are many types of joint mobilizing techniques that are commonly used by physical therapists and they tend to be named after the physical therapists who first promoted their use. Most commonly, physical therapists today use Maitland technique which uses small rhythmic oscillating movements (frequently on the intervertebral joints of the spine), McKenzie technique which utilizes the patient’s active range of movement in combination with physical therapist passive movements and Mulligan technique which moves the joint in a perpendicular or parallel glide in contrast to the patient’s movement.
Extensive research has been performed regarding all of these techniques and their effect in treating joint pain and stiffness is proven as highly valid, which is why joint mobilization remains one of the most common modalities used by physical therapists.
Joint mobilization works by:
- Improving blood supply to the joints by assisting in the blood pumping effect of the venous system which reduces pain, reduces inflammation and promotes better movement.
-Altering the activity of the nervous system to cause less pain sensation in the affected area.
- Stretching the joint structures to achieve greater flexibility and range of motion.
Common conditions that will benefit from joint mobilization are:
- Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
- Tennis elbow or Golfer’s elbow
- Neck and back pain and stiffness
- Post fracture or surgery
- Sports injuries
- Joint replacement
- Joint sprains
And there are just to name a few! Ask your physical therapist how they can use joint mobilization to help you overcome joint pain and stiffness.
We do not warrant or represent that the information in this site is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. We recommend that you seek individual advice before acting on any information in this site. We have made every effort to ensure that the information on our website is correct at the time of publication but recommend that you exercise your own skill and care with respect to its use. If you wish to purchase our services, please do not rely solely on the information in this website.