Joint Mobilization Portland, OR

Joint Mobilization

Mobilize Your Joints and Get Moving Once Again!

Are you in need of our joint mobilization services?

As our boss has said for years: “Motion is Lotion.” And “If you rest, you rust.” And with inactivity or injury, at times a joint or a series of joints can become hypomobile – stiff or limited in their motion.

Joint mobilization is an extremely beneficial treatment option; however, many patients don’t know about the benefits of it.

Fortunately, joint mobilization is a type of manual therapy performed here at our Portland, OR physical therapy clinic. Most of our physical therapists have advanced training and nationally recognized certification in joint mobilization as well as joint manipulation.

With joint mobilization, your physical therapist will use his or her hands to mobilize an affected joint. At times, they may also elect to us specially designed belts, straps or wedges to help deliver the desired treatment effect.

This form of treatment involves the skilled passive movement of joints using a graded application of force, direction of direction of force, and technique based on the joints anatomy and congruence with the adjacent joint surface, as well as the mobilization purpose. Some mobilizations are helpful in pain modulation; others provided to get stiff and tight joints moving.

If you believe you could benefit from our joint mobilization techniques or have questions about joint mobilization, contact Rose City Physical Therapy today for more information!

What should I know about joint mobilization?

Joints, formed by adjacent articulating surfaces of two or more bones, depend on a combination of both stability and mobility in order to help you move and function efficiently and comfortably. Simply stated, think of a joint as a chain link…two links of a chain connected by an articulating “hinge”.

Our joints are supported by anatomic and physiological tissue including a joint capsule, the ligaments that surround the joint, the muscle fibers and tendons that act upon the bones around a joint, and articular cartilage – the smooth joint surface – all which can become injured; and if so, can then potentially benefit from physical therapy services, including specialized joint mobilization.

You have hundreds of joints in your body which vary in the classification or type of joint it is (from a biomechanical or physics perspective) 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). Each foot alone has 30 joints; the hand has 27 joints.

Joint mobilizations are provided for two main reasons: 1) Pain modulation and relaxation and 2) to get it moving. The specific type, magnitude, speed, and frequency of joint mobilization performed depends on several factors, including the goal of treatment, the type of joint being targeted, and even your own unique anatomy.

The benefits of joint mobilizations include pain reduction, improved range of motion, normalization of tissue tension and muscle activity across the joint, and improved quality of joint movement itself (known as arthrokinematics). It’s like taking your car to the garage to get the alignment tuned up and wheels and tires balance.

How do I know if joint mobilization will benefit me?

Joints in the body can get sprained from injury, repetitive movement, poor posture, improper body mechanics or faulty postures for examples. The joint can then become irritated or painful, swollen, hypomobile (stiff or limited motion), or hypermobile (loose or excessive motion, such as a shoulder dislocation). 

Structures or tissue surrounding the joint including the capsule, ligaments, muscles, and tendons may be injured or get tight also. Or in the case of the muscles and tendons that are related to the sprained joint, they may tense or guard as a compensatory effect of trying to support or stabilize the injured joint. This can lead to muscle weakness, faulty muscle activation patterns, increased stress across the joint or even impingement and damage to nearby nerves.

Joint mobilizations aren’t appropriate for all patients. Our experienced physical therapists can determine if it’s right for you and will explain its purpose and intent so you are informed.

Specific conditions and areas of the body which our physical therapy team successfully manage with joint mobilizations include:

  • The joints of the shoulder girdle complex, including the glenohumeral joint (the main shoulder joint) and the acromioclavicular (‘AC joint”) joint due to tightness and limited mobility; or the result of a local shoulder injury such as rotator cuff tendinopathy or tearing.
  • The joints of the elbow. The elbow appears to be an easy hinge joint that only bends and straightens. However, it is in fact one of the more complex multi-joint structures in the body that is made of 3 different joints within one capsule that embodies the elbow; each with a very unique function that joint mobilization can prove very helpful in restoring motion and function at each joint and its unique motion.
  • Adhesive capsulitis surrounding a joint. Most commonly this occurs at the shoulder, known as “frozen shoulder”. However, any joint can undergo capsule injury, and at times an injured capsule will react by tightening up across the entire capsule. When this happens, the joint becomes restricted in all directions. A specific application of force, direction and load using joint mobilization can be very effective in treating adhesive capsulitis. 
  • Facet joint locking or impingement at the joints of the spine. Facet joints are the small joints of the vertebrae or spinal column, and they can become restricted in their motion. Some patients report it feels like their neck is “locked up.”
  • Neck pain, torticollis and whiplash
  • Thoracic spine pain and stiffness, often related to poor posture.
  • Rib joints. Has anyone ever told you your rib has gone out! Don’t believe them. A rib that is truly “out” is one, like any other joint, that is dislocated due to significant trauma. A believe you me you won’t be in physical therapy to get this addressed as the trauma to dislocate will send you to the ER. With that shared, each rib has multiple joints with its respective adjacent vertebrae of the spine in the back, and cartilage in the front that connects the rib to the sternum. These joints can get disrupted, for examples, from a fall, being hit in a football game, or repetitive hard coughing during illness. Joint mobilizations or manipulations can prove very effective in helping treat and correct rib dysfunctions.
  • Hip pain and tightness
  • Patellofemoral joint (kneecap) problems
  • Ankle and foot injuries and sprains
  • Medial or lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s or tennis elbow, respectively)
  • Arthritis (especially of the spine, shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee)
  • Lumbar radiculopathy and Sciatica and other types of nerve impingement syndromes

Joint issues, most often hypombile (limited motion) joints are often the hidden underlying factor – the culprit – that can drive other types of injuries and problems including muscle strains, ligament damage, headaches, and bursitis at adjacent areas of the body – the victim area. Your joints could be contributing to your pain without you even realizing it!

This is why we strongly encourage you to consult with one of our Portland, OR physical therapists with any type of acute or chronic joint pain or dysfunction. We are conveniently located in the Slabtown neighborhood in NW Portland adjacent to The Pearl District. Call now to request an appointment!

Proper evaluation of the painful and surrounding areas, and providing specific joint mobilizations at those areas where motion is limited or aberrant, can be treated with proper skilled mobilizations to correct motion and restore function.

How will I know what my sessions will look like?

If you come to see a physical therapist at Rose City Physical Therapy with acute or chronic joint pain, you can first expect to be thoroughly evaluated during your initial examination. DUring your first appointment, we’ll be assessing and evaluating everything from your pain levels, range of motion, strength, coordination, posture, body mechanics and functional movement, and relative tissue tension in order to devise a working clinical diagnosis.

Based on our exam findings, as well as information we gather from questioning you about your current and past medical history, any previous treatment you may have already tried, and your unique goals, we’ll be able to develop a customized treatment plan to meet your unique needs.

Since joint mobilization techniques have been shown to be effective for a variety of conditions, we very well may decide to implement this type of manual therapy in your plan of care.

Be sure to wear comfortable loose-fitting clothing to your physical therapy sessions to allow your physical therapist the ability to see and easily palpate (feel) the specific joint or other body part he or she is mobilizing – keeping in mind of course, that your privacy and comfort are of utmost concern to our staff.

Your physical therapist will also provide information on what to expect to feel during and after mobilization treatments, as well as what to do following a treatment in order to maximize effects and prevent recurring pain or dysfunction.

Additional services, which may include therapeutic exercises for strengthening and range of motion restoration, modalities, and postural and neuromuscular retraining will also be used to complement and optimize the effects of joint mobilization.

Get Started with Rose City Physical Therapy Today!

Are you wondering if joint mobilization is right for you? 

If so, request an appointment at Rose City Physical Therapy today in Portland, OR to learn about our wide range of physical therapy services we offer. 

Drug-free relief from your joint or muscle pain is possible. Get your healing journey started today.