Any point in the body where one bone connects to another is considered a joint. The space between the bones is what allows for movement, flexibility, and function. Some joints (like those in the skull) move very little, while highly flexible joints like the hip, knee, and wrist can move in many different directions. Cartilage protects and cushions the joint surfaces, while muscles, tendons, and ligaments connect and support for the bones.
Joint pain is most often caused by trauma, which can damage the joint or its supporting structures. Auto accidents and falls are more likely to cause serious trauma, but repeatedly performing the same motion can also cause damage. For example, typists may have joint pain in fingers and wrists, while a baseball pitcher may have shoulder, elbow or wrist pain. When mental stress causes chronic muscle tension, it may result in joint pain. Inactivity can have the same result as muscles shorten and become tight. Inflammation – which can be caused by dietary factors or a problem like arthritis – can also cause joint pain.
Joints bend and extend because the muscles, tendons, and ligaments work together. When there is a problem in the joint, these structures can become inflamed, short or too loose. The additional stress on the joint also contributes to pain and may even destabilize the joint, increasing the risk of injury. Chemicals and toxins that leak from stressed muscles can irritate the tissues and cause inflammation and pain.
Neck or back pain can result from spinal misalignments, while other joint misalignments can cause problems pretty much anywhere in the body. Chiropractors are skilled at correcting the misalignment, which allows the joint to heal. A chiropractor is also a good resource for exercises that can help strengthen and stretch muscles or to assess postural problems that may be contributing to the joint pain.
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