JOINT PAIN? What is a joint? I think we need to understand that before we can go on to discuss why it hurts.
What would you be like if you had no bones? You'd be floppin' around like a Raggedy Ann or Andy doll. You wouldn't even be able to stand up, walk or even sit up in a chair. Without your bones you'd simply be a pile of organs, guts, skin, water and biochemical goo on the floor. When your muscles contract, they act as levers and pull on the joint between two bones creating movement. Look at your finger and then move it. The muscle contracted, pulled on the joint between two small bones and bent your finger. If you didn't have bones, a muscle would have nothing to attach itself to. The end of a muscle turns into a tendon before it cross a joint; it is actually the tendon that actually pulls on the bone.
You have 206 bones in your body and about 230 moveable and semi-moveable joints.
A joint is:
- 1. Cartilage: the end of each bone is covered with articular cartilage. This stuff cushions and protects the end of bones. When it breaks down, arthritis symptoms occur. Muscle weakness can be a cause.
- Synovial Sac: this is filled with Synovial fluid which serves to lubricate and nourish the joint.
- Bursa: the bursa sac is not actually part of a joint by close by. It has fluid that lubricates the movement of muscles across bones.
- Muscles: these allow motion across the joint and provide muscle balance.
- 5. Tendon: Tendons are cords that attach muscles to the bones. Unlike muscles which change length (contract), the tendons are unable to change length. However, as the muscle moves, the tendon to which it is attached also moves. Muscles run the show!
- Ligaments: are short fibrous cords that attach go from bone to bone. Typically, ligaments are located around the joints. They provide for the stability of a joint and hold the adjacent bones in the proper alignment.
Freely movable joints move in many directions. The main joints of the body — found at the hip, shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles — are freely movable or not
Dysfunction: Abnormal or impaired functioning, any malfunctioning part or element in a system. What if one of your or more the muscles around a joint was dysfunctional? Wouldn’t that cause a problem?
In order to heal from an injury or a pain (acute or chronic), one needs to evaluate and consider why these pains exist. Rehabilitation from injury or pain and correction of muscle imbalances and joint dysfunction should be priority number one priority. If you are in pain, you can rest assured that the muscles crossing any joints in pain are being shut off, resulting in even more instability in that joint. When this type of compensation occurs, there is a direct effect that leads to more dysfunctions which then leads to more pain, degeneration of the body as it compensates for faulty movement and posture. The stress can take many forms. It may cause unnecessary work or movement in another part of the body, placing greater stress on certain muscles and tendons (strains). It may create unnatural motion of the spine or limbs, placing greater stress on joints and ligaments (sprains). It becomes a cycle of injury where one dysfunction leads to another, which in turn leads to another and so on. Wow that all sounds quite unpleasant!
STOP - Let go back to the beginning and start over, I don’t want to go through all of that and I am sure you don’t either or maybe you have already begun this journey. What do we have to do so this does not happen or if it has started what can we do to fix the “problem”?
Evaluation is the key or as we say in the trades “assessment”. That means stop and think, notice and appraise. If you have had your “pain” for awhile (more than a few weeks) then you are already into the world of compensation. That means that some other players (muscles) are involved. More simply put you need to learn what muscles are working incorrectly on that joint involved. Typically overactive (shortened) muscles become tight and under-active muscles become weak or stretched. Look at a telephone pole the next time you are driving. The wires on either side of the pole must possess equal tension keep the pole vertical. If there is more tension on one side, the pole will lean. The body works the same way with regard to length/tension ratios between agonist and antagonist muscle groups, (in other words the muscle which oppose each other, for example biceps and triceps.)
The key to reversing this type of joint pains is to rehabilitate the muscles surrounding the joint. Can you guess where I am going from here? That’s right exercise! In case of injury or pain work it is best to get an expert to assess the imbalances. You want to evaluate the way the joint and the muscles surrounding it are working or not working together. Being proactive is the key here!