How to Use a Goniometer to Measure Elbow Extension

Written by andrew youngker
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How to Use a Goniometer to Measure Elbow Extension
Physical therapists use goniometers to monitor elbow joint movement. (Dougal Waters/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Health care providers use goniometers to measure angles of joints. These tools are usually made of plastic and have a fulcrum attached to two arms. The range of motion of a joint is commonly checked after sports injuries or surgeries to monitor the progression of motion. Elbow goniometry is accomplished using a single elbow flexion movement.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Examination table

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Position the patient on an examination table lying on their back in the anatomical position. The anatomical position is both arms to the side with palms facing upward.

  2. 2

    Align the fulcrum with the epicondyle of the humerus.

  3. 3

    Position the stationary arm along the humeral midline and the moving arm with the radial styloid process. Stabilise the stationary arm from shifting during the movement.

  4. 4

    Ask the patient to slowly touch their shoulder, noting the beginning and ending reading on the goniometer. This is the range of motion (ROM).

Tips and warnings

  • Check physical landmarks before and after to ensure accurate results.
  • Do not force natural movement of a joint unless you are licensed to do so.

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