Introduction to goniometry
Goniometry is the measuring of angles created by the bones of the body at the joints. These joints are measured by a goniometer. The goniometer has a moving arm, stationary arm, and the fulcrum. The fulcrum or body is placed over the joint being measured and on it is a scale from 0 to 180°. The stationary arm will be aligned with the inactive part of the joint measured, while the moving arm is placed on the part of the limb which is moved in the joint’s motion. For example, when measuring knee flexion, the stationary arm will be aligned over the thigh in line with the greater trochanter of the femur. The fulcrum is aligned over the knee joint or lateral epicondyle of the femur, and the moving arm with the midline of the leg or lateral malleolus.
Performing these tests is important for many reasons. First, the mobility of joints is important for diagnosis and determining the presence or absence of dysfunction. In a chronic condition, goniometry can measure the progression of the disorder. An example of this is the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, joint motion measurement can evaluate improvements or lack of progression during rehabilitation. This not only provides motivation for the patient when there are improvements, but also can decipher if modifications need to be made if treatment is not effective.
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