Joint Stabilization

Joint stability is the ability to control movement in, or maintain the static position of, the body’s joints. Achieving joint stability involves synchronized function within the body’s neuromuscular system and connective tissues. When there is a lack of support in the tissues surrounding a joint, the joint becomes vulnerable to dislocation or displacement. These supporting tissues include ligaments, muscles, and surrounding bones. All of these structures work in harmony to allow for movement. However, certain injuries and other conditions threaten joint stability by creating structural deficits that throw off joint alignment and balance, which can lead to injuries such as falls. Patients may undergo medical imaging studies to identify the cause of joint instability. Physical therapists can assess those deficits and misalignments to develop a customized exercise program aimed at improving strength, balance, and proprioception. Stabilization exercises often involve the use of equipment such as stability balls, balance boards, or balance disks. Such exercises are often performed with one leg or arm at a time, which prevents one side from overcompensating for the other side. Other joint stabilization treatments may include bracing, taping, or in some cases, surgery. Anti-inflammatory medication may be appropriate if there is swelling or inflammation in the affected joint.