Joint Mobilization

What is a Joint Mobilization?

You have hundreds of joints in your body, which come in a variety of types and sizes such as a “hinge joint” in your elbow, a “ball and socket joint” in your hip, or a “saddle joint” in your thumb. Joints are necessary for movement and also have sensors that provide feedback to our brain that help us keep track of where our body is in space.

Joint mobilization is a manual therapy treatment technique, used in conjunction with exercise, that is performed to achieve a specific goal. Joint mobilizations are either performed by hand, or other tools such as straps or belts, depending on the body part. Joint mobilizations are passive, oscillatory movements performed by your Physical Therapist to help address limitations that have been identified during your initial evaluation. 

The specific type, magnitude, speed, and frequency of joint mobilization performed depends on several factors, including the goal of treatment, and the type of joint being targeted. The two main goals of joint mobilizations are to reduce pain and improve joint mobility. Joint manipulation is another type of manual treatment that may be utilized to address mobility limitations. Following joint mobilizations, there is typically an active movement that your Physical Therapist will have you perform to emphasize the movement pattern that the joint mobilization was working to accomplish.

Why would a Physical Therapist use Joint Mobilizations?

During your initial evaluation and subsequent visits, your Physical Therapist will continue to assess how your joints are moving. If your Physical Therapist determines that you may be experiencing movement limitations due to a decrease in joint mobility, then joint mobilizations will be applied.

There are a few reasons you may be experiencing decreased joint mobility. Here are some examples:

  • Acute or chronic injury
  • Whiplash due to motor vehicle accident
  • Neck -related headaches
  • After Surgery
  • Adhesive Capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
  • Arthritis (especially of the shoulder, spine, elbow, hip, and knee)

Joint mobilizations are also utilized to help reduce pain. These types of mobilizations have less force and smaller oscillation compared to using joint mobilizations to improve joint mobility. These mobilizations are utilized on:

  • Acute injury
  • Post surgical 
  • Increased sensitivity

Joint mobilizations are an effective tool to help decrease pain and improve mobility. However, it’s important to realize that it is just a tool! It is a passive intervention that needs to be used in conjunction with active treatment.  Following your evaluation, your Physical Therapist will help determine if joint mobilizations are appropriate for your treatment plan.

Are you wondering if joint mobilization is right for you? Contact The FIT Institute (TFI) today at Chicago, North Center, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village, IL. Our friendly staff is happy to answer your questions, help you schedule an appointment, and educate you about our wide range of physical therapy services we offer. Drug-free relief from your joint or muscle pain is possible, so give us a call to get your healing journey started today.