What is joint mobilization?
You have hundreds of joints in your body, which come in a variety of types and sizes. Joints, formed by the articulating surfaces of two or more bones, depend on a combination of both stability and mobility in order to help you function efficiently and comfortably. Importantly, joints are supported by a wide variety of physiological structures which can become injured and benefit from joint mobilization.
It involves the passive movement of specific joints using the skilled application of force, direction, and technique. A physical therapist can use his or her hands to mobilize an affected joint, or may elect to use certain tools, including straps, to help deliver the desired treatment effect.
The specific type, magnitude, speed, and frequency of joint mobilization performed depends on several factors, including the goal of treatment, the type of joint being targeted, and even your own unique anatomy. The primary effects of joint mobilizations include pain reduction, improved range of motion, and improved quality of joint movement itself.
What conditions can benefit from joint mobilization?
Sometimes, a joint can become irritated, swollen, or misaligned as a result of injury, stress, poor posture, repetitive movement, or even as a result of age-related wear and tear. When this happens, the joint may not move correctly and become stiff and painful. Nearby structures including muscles, tendons, and ligaments may become tense or injured as a compensatory effect of trying to support or stabilize the injured joint.
Specific conditions which our Nashua physical therapy team successfully manage with joint mobilizations include:
- Arthritis (especially of the shoulder, spine, elbow, hip, and knee)
- Rotator cuff tears and sprains
- Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
- Medial or lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s or tennis elbow, respectively)
- Ankle sprains
- Sciatica and other types of nerve impingement syndromes
- Facet joint locking and other types of spinal misalignments