Effect of Mobilization for Frozen Shoulder

Loss of motion and function occur with adhesive capsulitis. This condition is also known as frozen shoulder. Experts in physical therapy have suggested that a treatment technique called mobilization may be helpful.

Mobilization is a therapeutic movement of the joint. It's a back-and-forth oscillating movement done within the available joint range of motion. And it's done by the physical therapist at a speed the patient can control. Mobilization can be used to stretch the shoulder capsule and soft tissues. The goal is to restore normal joint motion and rhythm.

This is the first study to evaluate the use of three mobilization techniques. Two of these methods (mid-range mobilization (MRM), end-range mobilization (ERM)) are done in slightly different positions of the joint. The third mobilization is performed along with joint motion (mobilization with movement (MWM)).

Patients with frozen shoulder syndrome were randomly placed in two different groups. Each group received two or more mobilization techniques. This is called a multiple treatment trial. Each mobilization method was performed twice a week for three weeks. The sessions lasted 30 minutes.

Outcomes of the treatment were measured based on patient report of function and computerized motion analysis. The results showed improvement in motion and function for all three techniques. ERM and MWM worked better than MRM. MWM improved the quality of shoulder motion.

The authors conclude that ERM and MWM are the only mobilization methods that successfully stretch the joint capsule and surrounding soft tissues. Both should be used together. MWM also improves the rhythm of motion between the shoulder joint and the shoulder blade.

Reference: 

Jing-Ian Yang, PT, MS et al. Mobilization Techniques in Subjects with Frozen Shoulder Syndrome: Randomized Multiple-Treatment Trial. In Physical Therapy. October 2007. Vol. 87. No. 10. Pp. 1307-1315.

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