Types of Range of Motion Exercises to Treat Arthritis
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Types of Range of Motion Exercises to Treat Arthritis

Range of motion exercises are recommended by occupational therapist and physical therapist for patients with joint problems specifically arthritis. Learn the different types of ROM exercises.

Range of motion exercises are recommended by occupational therapist and physical therapist for patients with joint problems specifically arthritis. It is an exercise performed by flexing the joints to its optimum capacity in order to reduce the stiffness. It is done gently by moving the extremities in specific directions and repeated motions.

There are different types of range of motion exercises and how they are performed. These are as follows:


In active ROM, patient will be instructed to perform the movements on a nonfunctioning joint. When patients are taught a planned ROM program, they feel more independent because they are participating actively. They also can carry out additional ROM by participating in their own care. Combing the hair exercises joints of the upper extremity; lifting the foot for bathing exercises joints of the lower extremity. Encourage other appropriate activities as well.


Active-assistive ROM is carried out with patient and nurse participating. Encourage the patient to carry out as much of each movement as possible, within the limitations of strength and mobility. Nurse and care provider support or complete the desired movement.


Passive ROM is performed by a nurse or other care provider on a patient’s immobilized joints. Nurses and care provider’s assessment skills are needed to determine which parts or joints must be exercised and with what frequency.

Continuous Passive Motion

After certain types of major knee surgery, restoring the patient’s ROM is a significant concern. In such cases, a machine called a continuous passive motion (CPM) device may be used. The CPM device provides a sling support for the thigh and calf, with a hinged connection at the knee. A foot plate maintains the foot at a right angle to prevent foot drop. The CPM device is placed in the bed under the leg; the motor is placed under the bed and plugged into a convenient outlet. The leg id then positioned in correct alignment with the knee at the flex point and secured to the CPM device with Velcro straps. A control allows you to set the degree of flexion ordered by surgeon. When the machine is turned on, it automatically flexes and extends the knee joint at a slow, continuous rate.

When caring for a patient using a CPM device, determine how many hours the device is to be used and what degree of flexion should be set on it. Remove the leg from the CPM device for such activities as bathing, skin care, ambulating, or going to the bathroom. Some CPM devices have an on-off switch that allows for patient control, enhancing self-care. The patient using a CPM device will continue to have physical therapy for concentrated exercise.

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