What Is Limited Range of Motion?

Range of Motion Is Normal Movement of a Joint

Range of motion
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A joint is formed where the ends of two bones come together. Joints hold bones together and allow for movement of the skeleton. All bones form joints, except the hyoid bone in the neck.

The normal movement of a joint is referred to as normal range of motion. Specifically, range of motion includes flexion (bending), extension (straightening), adduction (movement towards central axis of body), abduction (movement away from central axis of body), rotation, pronation (rotation inward), and supination (rotation outward).

A specific joint's range of motion is measured using a goniometer.

Normal Range of Motion (as measured in degrees):

  • Hip flexion 0-125
  • Hip extension 115-0
  • Hip hyperextension (straightening beyond normal range) 0-15
  • Hip abduction 0-45
  • Hip adduction 45-0
  • Hip lateral rotation (rotation away from center of body) 0-45
  • Hip medial rotation (rotation towards center of body) 0-45
  • Knee flexion 0-130
  • Knee extension 120-0
  • Ankle plantar flexion (movement downward) 0-50
  • Ankle dorsiflexion (movement upward) 0-20
  • Foot inversion (turned inward) 0-35
  • Foot eversion (turned outward) 0-25
  • Metatarsophalangeal joints flexion 0-30
  • Metatarsophalangeal joints extension 0-80
  • Interphalangeal joints of toe flexion 0-50
  • Interphalangeal joints of toe extension 50-0
  • Shoulder flexion 0-90
  • Shoulder extension 0-50
  • Shoulder abduction 0-90
  • Shoulder adduction 90-0
  • Shoulder lateral rotation 0-90
  • Shoulder medial rotation 0-90
  • Elbow flexion 0-160
  • Elbow extension 145-0
  • Elbow pronation 0-90
  • Elbow supination 0-90
  • Wrist flexion 0-90
  • Wrist extension 0-70
  • Wrist abduction 0-25
  • Wrist adduction 0-65
  • Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints abduction 0-25
  • MCP adduction 20-0
  • MCP flexion 0-90
  • MCP extension 0-30
  • Interphalangeal proximal (PIP) joints of fingers flexion 0-120
  • PIP extension 120-0
  • Interphalangeal distal (DIP) joint of fingers flexion 0-80
  • DIP extension 80-0
  • Metacarpophalangeal joint of thumb abduction 0-50
  • MCP of thumb adduction 40-0
  • MCP of thumb flexion 0-70
  • MCP of thumb extension 60-0
  • Interphalangeal joint of thumb flexion 0-90
  • Interphalangeal joint of thumb extension 90-0

Note: For joints of the hand or foot, adduction and abduction are measured in relation to the midline of hand or foot.

What Is Limited Range of Motion?

Limited range of motion refers to movement of a joint that is less than the expected normal range. In other words, restricted movement. Limited range of motion can result from:

What Are Range of Motion Exercises?

Many doctors, physical therapists and occupational therapists recommend exercise for people with arthritis, primarily to maintain joint function and to preserve or improve the strength of the musculoskeletal system.

Range of motion exercises are gentle stretching exercises that move each joint as far as possible in all directions. Normal daily activities typically do not take joints through their full range of motion. Range of motion exercises help reduce joint pain and joint stiffness, as well as maintaining function.

There are three types of range of motion exercise: active, active assistive. and passive. With active range of motion exercise, patients move by themselves without assistance. With active assistive, a therapist helps the patient move their arms and legs. Passive range of motion is performed entirely by the therapist because the patient is unable to participate in moving their limbs.

Regardless of how it is achieved, range of motion exercise is essential to preserve or restore joint function.


Limited Range of Motion. MedlinePlus. Updated 03/02/2016.

Physical Therapy. Merck Manuals Professional Version. Last reviewed August 2013.

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