Effectiveness of Massage Therapy in Improving Range of Motion and Posture of Shoulder and Cervical Region in a Morbidly Obese Patient: A Case Report
Posted:Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Grant MacEwan University – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Background: Range of motion (ROM) is defined as the extent of movement of a joint for a
certain inter-segmental rotational movement. Range of motion is primarily restricted by
musculature and skeletal structures. It may also be affected by other factors such as age, gender,
and obesity, which can have debilitating effects. Lack of physical activity, reduction in function,
and fatty tissue surrounding the joints or adjacent structures may contribute to restrictions in
range of motion in obese individuals. Lack of suitable equipment and protocols for treating
morbidly obese individuals limits the effectiveness of the therapist and the desire of the patient to
consider massage therapy as a viable treatment option.
Objective: To demonstrate the effectiveness of massage therapy on reduction of symptoms in a
morbidly obese patient experiencing pain in the shoulder, restrictions in ROM during specific
movements, and acquired postural alterations.
Methods: A 58-year-old disabled, morbidly obese male presented with pain and stiffness in his
right shoulder. A student massage therapist conducted initial and final assessments and treated
the patient over a six-week period. Techniques were chosen to help the patient reach his goals of
reducing pain, and improving range of motion and posture. Techniques utilized were trigger
point therapy (TrP), soft tissue frictions (STF) and direct fascial (DF) techniques. Stretches were
chosen to help maintain results and promote active recovery.
Results: After five treatments, shoulder and cervical ROM increased and shoulder pain
diminished. The patient was able to move through the entirety of range with minimal discomfort.
Conclusion: Results suggest that with modified positioning and techniques, massage therapy
combined with therapeutic exercises can help reduce non-specific shoulder pain, increase range
of motion, and improve posture in morbidly obese patients.
Keywords: range of motion, obesity, homecare, shoulder, cervical