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The immediate effects of passive joint mobilization on local muscle function: A systematic review of the literature

from Musculoskeletal Science and Practice

Passive joint mobilization is popular among healthcare providers and their patients; however, its effectiveness for improving muscle function is not well researched, and the mechanisms of action involved are unclear. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of passive joint mobilizations on the function of muscles surrounding the targeted joints in symptomatic as well as asymptomatic individuals. Selection criteria consisted of controlled experimental trials assessing the immediate effect of passive joint mobilization on outcomes associated with local muscle function. Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. A total of 17 studies were included, of which 10 studies reported data on asymptomatic individuals and seven studies reported data on symptomatic individuals with various conditions. There is a moderate level of evidence that joint mobilization immediately decreases the activation of superficial muscles during low load conditions in symptomatic individuals. For asymptomatic individuals, there is a low level of evidence that passive joint mobilization improves maximum muscle strength when compared to sham mobilization, opposed to a very low level of evidence suggesting no effect in symptomatic individuals. The five studies reporting data on both, changes in muscle function as well as changes in pain, suggest that other, not pain-related mechanisms may play an important role regarding the reported improvement in muscle function. Current best evidence suggests that passive joint mobilization has the ability to immediately alter muscle function. The specific mechanisms of action involved require further basic science investigations. (This is a hyperlink to the abstract for this article. To view the full article, you will need to log in to the journal's website.) more

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