Let's talk joint mechanics. What is the anatomy of a healthy joint? What causes a healthy joint to become damaged? How do we promote a healthy joints at any age? Today we are talking all about joint health! "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes... Knees and Toes... Knees and Toes."
Anatomy of a Healthy Joint
Structurally speaking, joints are located where two bones meet. They allow us to move, bend, and twist and without them we'd be quite useless. There are several types of joints located throughout the body such as hinge joints, ball and socket joints, and gliding joints like those in the spine. A healthy joint contains synovial fluid which reduces friction and creates a smooth gliding motion. A healthy joint has plenty of cartilage to protect bones as they move next to each other. Strong ligaments and tendons are also a vital component. But most of all, a healthy joint is a mobile joint. In the teen years, joints stop getting receiving significant blood supply and start getting essential water and nutrients from a process called imbibition. Imbibition happens when movement forces nutrients in and out of cells and tissue in the absence of direct blood supply. Three main areas in our body rely on this process: The spinal discs, cartilage within our joints, and the cornea in our eyes. Without movement, imbibition will not occur and without the movement of key nutrients and water joints will degenerate much faster.
Common Causes of Joint Degeneration
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is an diagnosis that indicates several major findings which typically includes a combination of the following: decreased joint space, thinning of discs or cartilage, bone spur formation, bone erosion, and inflammation of the synovial membrane or joint capsule. Abnormal stress on a joint leads to "wear and tear" of a healthy joint. Degeneration doesn't automatically happen with age. It's not the years, it's the miles. This is why we can see an X-ray from a 60-year-old with minimal "wear and tear" on their spine and compare it to a 30-year-old who has been in several car accidents and leads a sedentary lifestyle. The level of wear and tear on your joints is directly related to how much abnormal stress is applied. A single traumatic event like whiplash or ankle sprain can lead to overstretching of ligaments and tendons, injury to muscle fibers, and compromised joint alignment. Secondly, a joint can become damaged overtime. "The stresses placed on joints by poor posture, excessive weight, poor joint position during the performance of a task, and/or poor workstation ergonomics make these joints more likely to be injured." (source)
Preventing Joint Pain as We Age
Keep moving! Find something that allows you to move comfortably. Whether it is yoga, swimming, biking, walking, or stretching you must move your joints to save your joints! Not only that, muscle mass commonly decrease with age but "the rate of muscle loss is influenced by the amount of regular physical activity people do throughout their lives." (source)
Get adjusted! Create better posture, healthier habits, and optimal spinal mobility with chiropractic care. Getting checked for subluxations (misalignments) will help keep your joints moving like a "well oiled machine" and reduce abnormal stress. Chiropractic is much more than pain relief, it is an ounce of prevention and we all know that quote!
Eat healthy! Studies show that older adults do not consume enough protein in their diet. This is problematic because protein is a building block of strong muscles. For joints to be healthy, you must have strong muscles. Weight training or resistance training is another great way to maintain optimal muscle mass which can promote healthy joints. Learn more here!
https://www.nestlehealthscience.com/health-management/aging/maintaining-mobility-as-part-of-healthy-aging check out a great video discussing joint health and mobility!
From the desk of Dr. Lisette Miller Kondrad. Dr. Miller is a licensed Chiropractic Physician and Board Certified Acupuncture Provider who has been in clinical practice for 7 years. She has helped hundreds of patients via Chiropractic care and Acupuncture. Click here to contact Clark Road Chiropractic Center with any questions or to schedule your appointment!