Joint Health and Arthritis
Joint Venture: Keep Moving With Healthy Joints
Joints have a very important function in the human body - they keep us moving. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to sign your name, drive a car, dance across the room, or snap your fingers. Wherever two bones meet, you find a joint. Joints enable your body to move and remain flexible. They also provide stability to the skeleton.
Types of Joints:
Joints are often grouped into categories according to their shape and the type of motion they provide. Let’s briefly go over some of the main types of joints in the body.
Hinge joint. This type of joint moves very much like the hinge on a door or cabinet. Just as a door can swing open and closed, a hinge joint enables a part of the body to bend and extend. Examples of hinge joints are the knee and the ulna part of the elbow.
Pivot joint. Pivot joints function like wheel joints. This type of joint permits one bone to spin and twist around another bone. Examples of pivot joints are the top two bones of the spine and the radius part of the elbow.
Ball-and-socket joint. This type of joint offers the greatest range of motion and maneuverability. Also called a spheroidal joint, this joint consists of a ball shaped portion of one bone that fits into a cup-like cavity in an adjoining bone. This joint enables both swinging and rotating movements. Examples of ball-and-socket joints are your shoulder and hip.
Gliding joint. This type of joint involves the flat or slightly rounded surfaces of two bones that smoothly glide past one another. Examples of gliding joints are the joints in your spine, wrists, and ankles.
Many of the most movable joints in the body have specialized hyaline cartilage within a capsule filled with synovial fluid. In order to prevent friction within this movable joint, the joint structures are continually bathed in lubricating synovial fluid. This synovial fluid also provides nutrition for the joint cartilage, keeping it sturdy, healthy, and strong.
Arthritis and Joint Disease:
Many people don’t realize that there are over 100 different medical conditions that fall under the umbrella term of “arthritis.” Most of these conditions are diseases you’ve probably never heard of. Some are caused by infection. Nearly all are characterized by inflammation of the joints. There are even types of arthritis that are sexually transmitted. However, the most common health conditions that affect joints are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout.
Osteoarthritis is the single most prevalent form of arthritis and joint disease. It usually progresses over time as the cartilage in joints gradually loses its elasticity and wears away. Its main symptoms are pain, swelling, and joint stiffness. Sometimes, in an attempt to stabilize an arthritic joint, a person’s body will create outcroppings of extra bone called a “spur” or osteophyte. Osteoarthritis is most commonly found in the hips, hands, knees, and spines of older adults. Osteoarthritis doesn’t usually occur in young adults unless it’s caused by joint overuse (such as from manual labor) or joint injury (from trauma or sports). There are also genetic factors that contribute to the disease.
Ways to Protect Joints:
Many people can delay the onset and severity of arthritis and joint disease by taking precautions when they are young. However, there are preventative measures that can be taken at virtually any age.
Keep a healthy diet. The addition of extra pounds increases the burden on joints, especially the hips, knees, and ankles. Even moderate weight loss can drastically reduce biomechanical stress on joints. If you are overweight, get with your healthcare provider to set reasonable goals for weight loss. Make certain that your bones and joints receive the nutrition they need to last throughout your lifetime.
Choose comfortable, supportive shoes. Shoes that fit incorrectly, have heels that are too high, lack a supportive sole, or that are otherwise uncomfortable, can affect the way you walk and cause unnecessary stress on the joints of the ankles, knees, hips, and low back.
Use proper body mechanics. Increase or decrease the height of your office chair to reduce pressure on your hips. Maintain good posture while standing. Do not bend, lift, and twist at the same time. Use caution when bending or lifting when you are tired and more prone to forget proper body mechanics.
Seek treatment for injured joints. If you are concerned that you may have hurt a joint, don’t delay in seeking treatment. Speak with your chiropractor, or primary care doctor.
Get adequate rest. Give your body enough time to rest and recharge each day. Select a mattress that supports your spine and hips. Choose a pillow that does not place your neck at an improper angle.
Support your joints by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Exercise can promote overall health, reduce pain and stiffness, strengthen joints, and increase joint mobility. Speak with your doctor about starting a regular exercise program designed for your specific needs.
Avoid repetitive movements and high impact exercises. Overloading and excessively straining joints contribute to joint degeneration.
Maintain proper joint alignment and biomechanics. A misaligned joint will have increased wear and tear, leading to earlier development of osteoarthritis. Conversely, a joint that is properly aligned will be stronger, more stable, and less prone to degeneration. Chiropractors perform precise adjustments to misaligned joints that restore a natural and more symmetrical joint alignment. Speak with your chiropractor if you have concerns about your joint alignment.
Joints play an essential role in your body’s ability to bend, move, and perform the activities of daily life. Don’t wait until a severe sports injury or the painful onset of arthritis before you begin protecting your joints. By taking steps to save your joints today, you’ll be adding thousands of steps that your joints will be able to make in years to come.
Preventing Arthritis Pain
Are you familiar with the old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? Administer your own ounce of prevention today by removing some stress from tired, inflamed, and over-worked joints. If you have questions about arthritis, or about joint health, speak with your chiropractor.
The doctors at Back In Action Chiropractors in Flagler Beach have treated many patients who have suffered from joint injuries and various forms of arthritis. They have helped people throughout Flagler County (including Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, and Bunnell) by carefully aligning the joints, reducing joint pain, and restoring healthier joint mobility. In Palm Coast and Flagler Beach, arthritis pain seems to affect a large number of people because of the higher percentage of active seniors present in this region of Florida. If you have questions about arthritis pain and joint disease, or about how to keep your joints healthier longer, please contact your local chiropractor.