If you have ever been a patient in outpatient physical therapy you probably know that stretching is a large part of the treatment. Stretching can help to improve the flexibility of muscles as well as decrease muscle spasms that may be restricting the joint’s range of motion (ROM). Sometimes the loss of motion is not caused by a muscular restriction but is the result of a tight or dysfunctional joint. When this occurs, your therapist may choose to use joint mobilizations.
Joint mobilizations are used to reduce pain, reduce muscle spasm, and improve joint ROM. Joint mobilizations are small, oscillating movements that are applied directly to the joint by your therapist. Patients typically report that they feel like the therapist is pressing on the joint and in some cases feel like vibrations or shaking. The truth is that is exactly what they are doing! The pressure and shaking that you are feeling is intended to stretch out the capsule and ligaments that surround the joint to allow for more joint motion to occur.
Depending on the joint that is being treated, your therapist may have you either lying flat on a table or sitting comfortably in a chair. You therapist will first assess the joint to see how much motion you have and where the restrictions begin. Once this point has been discovered that therapist will take the joint to this position and begin performing the mobilizations. These are typically performed for 30-60 seconds and are followed by more stretching to improve joint motion. Your therapist will repeat this pattern of mobilizing and then stretching the joint until they feel they have reached the maximum potential of the joint. This treatment may be continued over several sessions of physical therapy until you achieve your full joint ROM.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a tight or painful joint that has decreased movement, do not wait to contact our offices! Our licensed Doctors of Physical Therapy will perform a comprehensive examination and determine if joint mobilizations can help you! We have offices in Clermont and Ocoee that can help you!