Range of Motion

Range of Motion (ROM) is the capability of a joint to go through its complete spectrum of movements. The range of motion of a joint can either be passive or active. 

Joints may have a limited ROM because of problems within the joint, such as, swelling of tissue around the joint, stiffness of the muscles, or pain.

Medical conditions that are associated with a limited ROM in the joint:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Juvenile RA
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Congenital Torcicolli
  • Sepsis
  • Syhilis

The definitions of Passive and Active ROM:

  • Passive ROM is the range of motion that is achieved when an outside force (a physical therapist) moves the joint in the maximum rang of motion that a joint can move. 
  • Active ROM is when there is no outside forces (passive ROM) on the joint, but is when opposing muscles contract and relax which results in movement of the joint. An example of this is bending the elbow when the bicep contracts and the tricep relaxes.

ROM therapy helps in healing and recovery from soft tissue and joint lesions, maintaining existing joint and soft tissue mobility, minimizing the effects of contracture formation, assisting neuromuscular reeducation, and enhancing synovial movement.

Devices Used to Measure Range of Motion

Baseline Plastic Goniometer - Pocket Style - 180 Degree Head

There are two devices that are used to measure Range of Motion (ROM). They the Goniometer and Inclinometer. Both use a stationary are, protractor, fulcrum, and movement arm to measure angle from axis of the joint. Out of the two devices a goniometer is is most widely used. 

When a patient has decreased ROM in a certain joint, a physical therapist can use a goniometer to asses the ROM during the initial assessment, and then take subsequent assessments to make sure the physical therapy intervention is working properly. 

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