Joint mobilization

What is joint mobilization?

It is a “Skilled passive movement of the joint surfaces performed by a physiotherapist to decrease pain or increase joint mobility and movement in a specific direction’.

Unlike stretching, joint mobilization is specific to the capsule of the joint itself and specific to a direction. This needs an understanding of how each joint moves and what glides happen in each movement. Many people by mistake use stretching to gain a restricted movement. This has adverse effects as causes changes in the tendons and functional loss in the muscle, with no effect on joint short structures.

What are the benefits of joint mobilization?

  • Improved joint mobility/reduced stiffness
  • Decreased muscle tightness & tension
  • Increased movement and ease of function
  • Decreased pain

What joins can benefit from mobilizations?

Any joint that is lacking normal movement may be mobilized. Joint mobilization can be performed on the neck, upper, middle and lower back, and sacroiliac joints, as well as shoulder, wrist, hand, hip, knee, foot and ankle.

What happens when a joint has limited motion?

When a joint’s movement is limited, the structure and function of the whole area change. Cartilage nutrition begins to decrease within the joint and the same applies to muscles and other tissues around the joint. Meanwhile, as one movement is limited in the body, as a rule, another area has to move more to compensate for the loss of mobility in the stiff joint. The result is that these neighboring joints begin to deteriorate due to overuse. Muscles surrounding a stiff joint lose their ability to contract and relax normally and become tight. With time the whole area is involved in the dysfunction surrounding the stiff joint. A good example is when you have shoulder joint pain. Following pain, your body tries to do the same movement and will start getting help from shoulder blade movement. This results in extra movement in this joint and extra work in the muscles. Both compensations cause more damage to the shoulder by the wrong pattern of movement and irritation of the soft tissues.

Will I feel anything during joint mobilization?

Much of the time you feel a sensation of a deep stretch, not more. Some times when the joint is mobilized you will feel a “pop” as the joint capsule is released. This may cause anxiety, however, this is usually a sign of relief and success.

How is the joint mobilization done?

The person is often placed in a comfortable position where they can relax and allow the problem joint to move freely in the desired direction. The Physiotherapist will use their hands to localize the joint in need and apply a graded amount of force through his hands in the appropriate direction. As you progress the physiotherapist may advance to the use of high-speed mobilizations and high forced mobilization, all of which should remain pain-free or with minimal discomfort.

After the treatment, movement of the joint is tested/ measured by the physiotherapist to see the degree of improvement.

If you have a problem with certain movements during daily activity or sports, it is possible that a joint is not moving normally. You can not determine which joint, as there is compensatory movement. This has to be tested by the physiotherapist. You will get back to normal activity and prevent future complications and injuries.  Call our experienced physiotherapist on 043444828 now to discuss your movement problem.