Joint mobilization is a specific set of techniques that fall into the subset of physical therapy known as manual physical therapy. The goals of joint mobilization are to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and normalize the functioning of the joint. Here is what you should know.
What is Joint Mobilization?
In joint mobilization, your physical therapist with carefully apply graded forces to move a joint in a specific direction. Unlike other manual techniques such as soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization is specific to the joint capsule.
Which Joints Can Be Mobilized?
Joint mobilization can be performed on any joint that has a restricted range of motion. Commonly mobilized joints include, but are not limited to:
- Neck joints
- Upper back joints
- Middle back joints
- Lower back joints
- Sacroiliac joints
- Shoulder joints
- Wrist joints
- Hand joints
- Hip joints
- Knee joints
- Ankle joints
- Foot joints
Why Is Joint Mobilization Important?
When a joint lacks full range of motion, the entire structure and functional capacity of the affected region begin to change. Cartilage nutrition begins to decrease inside the affected joint, and other joints begin to overwork to compensate, eventually deteriorating from overuse. The muscles surrounding the stiff joint lose their ability to fully relax, becoming chronically tight.
When a joint is mobilized, you may feel or even hear a noticeable “pop” in the joint capsule. This is no cause for alarm, as it means that the mobilization was successful. Immediately after the pop, you should feel the sensation of a deep stretch. Joint mobilization may be momentarily uncomfortable, but this will almost immediately give way to a sensation of relaxation and healing. It is not uncommon for the affected region to feel a bit sore for a few days as the neighboring structures begin to heal.
What Are the Benefits of Joint Mobilization?
Joint mobilization has numerous benefits for the entire affected region. These include:
- Improved joint mobility
- Decreased muscle spasms & tension
- Increased range of movement
- Reduced pain
How Is Joint Mobilization Performed?
Your physical therapist will place you in a comfortable position that allows you to relax and removes pressure from the joint. He or she will then use the hands to apply the proper amount of force in the right direction to loosen the joint. You may need several joint mobilizations to fully mobilize a particularly stiff joint. As your treatment progresses, your physical therapist may use high speed mobilizations to further loosen the joint.
Joint mobilization is one important aspect of a full physical therapy treatment plan. If you suffer from pain or reduced range of motion anywhere in your body, or you are recovering from an injury, ask your physician if physical therapy is an appropriate option for you. Many people find that they recover faster and more completely when physical therapy is a part of their recovery program.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready for the latest physical therapy treatments for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.