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What is Joint Mobilization?

Joint mobilization is a gentle therapy technique used by physical therapists to relieve pain and improve movement. It involves carefully applied pressure and manual movement of the affected joint, enhancing flexibility and function. With each precise motion, the therapist aims to reduce stiffness and encourage a smoother, more comfortable range of motion. Wondering how this could benefit you? Let's examine the process further.
Alex Paul
Alex Paul

Joint mobilization is a medical technique that is used to increase the range of motion and mobility of a joint. It is a passive movement that is usually applied to an injured area of the body in order to promote healing. The technique is commonly used on the spine and in this case it is called spinal mobilization. There are five levels of motion of a joint during joint mobilization and each is used for a different purpose. The difference between mobilization and manipulation when it comes to joints is the speed in which the treatment is performed with mobilization being much slower.

Joint mobilization is usually performed by trained professional physical therapists as a certain level of skill is required to perform it effectively and safely. Any manipulation of the body’s musculoskeletal system has the potential to cause damage if it isn’t performed correctly. Usually mobilization treatment will focus on the practitioner applying a force to the joint which mimics the gliding movement that occurs during regular movement. Sometimes these forces are held for an extended period of time in order to stretch the target. Generally, manipulations are performed at a higher speed and with more intensity than joint mobilization.

Indiviuals suffering from osteoarthritis should not undergo joint mobilization.
Indiviuals suffering from osteoarthritis should not undergo joint mobilization.

The technique of joint mobilization is important to recover the range of motion of a joint that has been injured or damaged. For example, for someone to kick his or her leg out from a seated position there must be enough mobility in the knee joint. After an injury this range of motion may be reduced. Joint mobilization techniques are also sometimes used to reduce pain in someone with an existing injury.

Joint mobilization techniques should only be performed by a trained physical therapist in conjunction with other treatments.
Joint mobilization techniques should only be performed by a trained physical therapist in conjunction with other treatments.

Although joint mobilizations can be an effective and safe way of treating joint problems there is also some risk involved. For example, the joint should not undergo mobilization treatment if osteoarthritis is present. People with a tumor in the area of the joint should also not go through these sorts of treatments. Joint mobilizations should also not be performed by people who aren’t trained to do so as taking the joint to the maximum of its available range can cause additional problems if performed incorrectly.

Chiropractic joint manipulation may lead to short term side effects such as soreness.
Chiropractic joint manipulation may lead to short term side effects such as soreness.

The different grades of mobilization describe the amount of mobility in the joint. For example, Grade 1 status mobilizations are when the practitioner applies a passive movement which includes up to 25 percent of the available joint play. Grade 3, on the other hand, involves the bone moving to the end of its range. There are also grades which are applied to the oscillations, or repetitions, of a particular joint mobilization exercise.

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    • Indiviuals suffering from osteoarthritis should not undergo joint mobilization.
      By: joshya
      Indiviuals suffering from osteoarthritis should not undergo joint mobilization.
    • Joint mobilization techniques should only be performed by a trained physical therapist in conjunction with other treatments.
      By: CandyBox Images
      Joint mobilization techniques should only be performed by a trained physical therapist in conjunction with other treatments.
    • Chiropractic joint manipulation may lead to short term side effects such as soreness.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Chiropractic joint manipulation may lead to short term side effects such as soreness.
    • Joint mobilization can help improve range of motion following an injury.
      By: Roman Milert
      Joint mobilization can help improve range of motion following an injury.
    • Joint mobilization should not be utilized if there is osteoarthritis present.
      By: peterjunaidy
      Joint mobilization should not be utilized if there is osteoarthritis present.
    • Joint mobilization is a technique used to increase the range of motion and mobility of a joint, such as an arthritic knee.
      By: joshya
      Joint mobilization is a technique used to increase the range of motion and mobility of a joint, such as an arthritic knee.