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Why do you need healthy joints? Our joints allow us to move and carry out normal activities of daily living. Joint health is imperative, because, without joints, we would be rigid and immobile. But they are also 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. Learn our 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 Do I Keep Joints in Good Shape?

The movements that you perform on a daily basis are critical to long-term joint health, as are proper nutrition, a healthy exercise regimen and a healthy lifestyle. Proper lifting is also important. Moving a joint through its full range of motion serves several important purposes. Joints are not supplied directly with blood as are other organs within the body, so the saying “Use it or lose it” applies to joint function. Most joints in the body are lined with cartilage—a firm but pliable tissue that covers the surfaces of the bones that make up the joint. Cartilage within a joint is nourished by synovial fluid, which is “forced” into the joint cartilage through a process called imbibition. The pressure within the joint providing nourishment to the cartilage occurs only when joint movement happens. This is why movement is critical to joint health. Grinding of bone on bone without a cartilage covering leads to degenerative joint disease, tearing up the bones and creating cysts, bone spurs and excess bone production.

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, and/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 an object, be sure that the largest muscles in the area perform the task.
  • During any activities, you should be able to comfortably assume several different postures, to avoid staying in one posture for extended periods.
  • When performing tasks, keep the joints that are being used either in their neutral posture 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 over at the waist and lift primarily with the muscles of the low back. Your body is more easily injured in this position.
  • Keep the object being lifted close to your body.
  • Keep your elbows flexed.
  • Keep your head up and your neck straight as you lift.

We want you to have healthy joints! If you experience pain, consult your Bronston Chiropractic team. We are trained to treat common musculoskeletal conditions, including low back pain, neck pain and joint pain. We can also help you choose proper rehabilitation exercises and prevention techniques to get you back in motion and reduce the likelihood of future injuries. You can schedule an appointment in Onalaska, La Crosse or Sparta by calling 608.781.2225, or click to make 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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