Physical Therapists have a long history of utilizing many different techniques to achieve results for their patients. Whether through exercises, machines and devices, or manual hands-on techniques, PT’s over the years have employed different techniques to improve a patient’s pain and function in order to get them back into their daily routine.
One of these techniques is called joint mobilization. If a patient has a lack of range of motion in a joint (if the joint feels like it’s “stuck” or “stiff”), then the PT can actually stretch the joint along with muscles to improve mobility. This allows the range of motion to improve because the joint has more range itself and will not get in the way of normal mobility.
In some instances, a patient may benefit from a quick stretch of the joint at higher speeds in order to achieve an audible “pop” within the joint. According to some studies, these techniques may provide short-term improvements in range of motion within the joints and improve pain. It is important to remember that techniques like these are not good treatment strategies when used by themselves, so these techniques should also be coupled with things like exercises and functional activities to gain the full benefit from treatment.
You can think of it like this: A joint mobilization technique may be used at the beginning of a treatment session to make you feel better and improve your range of motion, but what should you do with that newfound ability? It is important to take advantage of your improvement, otherwise those short-term affects will disappear, and your improvement will reverse. Instead, after performing one of these techniques, a therapist may choose to introduce you to new exercises and activities that may have been more difficult before. As you gain more strength and mobility over the course of a few treatments, you should notice that the pain you arrived with is beginning to disappear.
That mobilization technique that the therapist used at the beginning of your treatment sessions may have been a good jumping-off point for therapy in order to help improve your pain. It allows you to better tolerate some other treatment strategies that will ultimately help you improve your dysfunction and get you better and on with all the things that you enjoy doing.
Joint mobilization and high-velocity techniques are just some of the tools that therapists have in their “toolbox.” Sometimes these things might not be the right tool for the job, and instead the therapist will suggest some other treatment strategies in order to achieve the best outcome for each specific patient. Contact Lonoke Physical Therapy for more information!