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Patients often ask us for help with joint pain. Our joints allow us to move and carry out normal activities of daily living. But they are often injured, causing pain and discomfort. Almost 80% of injury-related healthcare visits (that’s about 65.8 million visits per year) are the result of musculoskeletal injuries involving bones, joints and muscles.Commonly injured joints include the knees, shoulders, ankles, and spine. Let’s talk about joint functions, injuries, and tips for healthy joints.

How Do Joints Work?

Joints are designed to withstand the loads placed on them and provide a full range of motion. Each joint is made up of at least two surfaces that touch each other and allow for movement. These include ball-and-socket joints like the hip, hinge joints like the knee and elbow, and gliding joints like those in the spine. The bones that make up the joint allow for movement, and the muscles that pull the bones produce the movement. Muscles are attached to bones by structures called tendons. Tendons must be both strong to facilitate movement and compliant to prevent damage to the muscle tissues. Ligaments, which are stiff structures that connect bones, help to prevent excessive movement. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are attached around each joint at very specific positions, with joint surfaces shaped in exact dimensions. Fluid within most of the joints lubricates the joint surfaces to reduce friction and allow for lifelong use.

How Are Joints Injured?

Most joint injuries occur because abnormal stresses are placed on a normal joint. A joint can be injured acutely from a single traumatic event, like an ankle sprain. The ankle joint is protected by ligaments on the inside and outside. When the ankle moves excessively inward, the ligaments on the outside of the joint are torn. The ankle swells, leading to bruising and pain. In some cases, small pieces of bone and cartilage may be torn away. Fracture of the tibia and/or fibula (ankle bones) can also occur. Other joint injuries are called repetitive-stress injuries or cumulative-trauma disorders. These injuries occur when relatively small abnormal stresses are repeatedly placed on normal joints. The stresses placed on joints by poor posture, poor joint position during the performance of a task, or poor workstation ergonomics make these joints more likely to be injured.

How Can I Prevent Joint Injuries?

There are three basic principles for proper joint movement:

  • When lifting, use the largest muscles in the area to perform the task.
  • During any activity, avoid staying in one posture for extended periods.
  • When performing tasks, keep joints in neutral or only halfway into their range of motion.

When lifting heavy objects, follow these simple suggestions:

  • When lifting anything from the floor, keep the spine straight and lift with the legs.
  • Do not bend at the waist and lift with the low back.
  • Keep the object being lifted close to your body.
  • Keep your elbows flexed.
  • Keep your head up and your neck straight as you lift.

If you have joint pain, talk to your Bronston chiropractor, who is trained to treat  joint pain and provide rehabilitation exercises. Schedule an appointment in Onalaska or La Crosse by calling 608.781.2225, or click to request an appointment.

Source: ACA

  1. “By the Numbers: Musculoskeletal Injuries.” The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States. U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, www.boneandjointburden.org/.
Dr Leo Bronston

Author Dr Leo Bronston

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