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October 2022

Phys Ther. 1992 Dec; 72(12): 929-36.

Treatment of limited shoulder motion: a case study based on biomechanical considerations.

McClure PW, Flowers KR.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

This article describes the management of a 57-year-old female patient following a fracture and dislocation of the right humeral head. The treatment of the patient involved the use of thermal agents, manual therapy, continuous passive motion, and splinting of the arm in an elevated position. We describe an approach to treatment of limited shoulder motion that is focused on identifying and applying tension to restricting structures rather than restoration of translatory gliding movements of the humeral head. Our treatment approach is based on recent data from biomechanical studies that challenge the concave-convex theory of arthrokinematic motion first described by MacConaill. We believe that tension in capsular tissues, rather than joint surface geometry, may control the translatory movements of the humeral head. The rationale for treatment involving low-load prolonged stress to tissues in the form of continuous passive motion and splinting is discussed as well as potential limitations of more brief forms of stress such as joint mobilization and manual stretching.

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