Not all joint pain is alike. That’s because not all joints are alike. Joints may move slightly, like the vertebrae, or freely, like the hands and hips—and discomfort in these joints can range from minor to debilitating. If you suffer from pain in the joints, chiropractic treatment may be able to help.
Anatomy of a Joint
Joints are more than just the point where two bones meet. These complicated mechanisms allow us to move. A joint can be made up of bones and/or some of the following components:
- Cartilage: tissue that covers the surface of a bone at a joint
- Synovial membrane: tissue that lines the joint and secretes a fluid to lubricate it
- Ligaments: bands of tough, elastic tissue that support the joint and connect the bones. They dictate how much the joint can move.
- Tendons: tissue that connects muscle to bone and helps controls movement
- Bursas: fluid-filled sacs between parts of the joint that cushion the structures and reduce friction
When something goes wrong with any of these structures that permit joints to function as they should, movement becomes restricted and painful, and daily activities can be affected. Joint pain can develop in many places in the body. It is most common in the knees, shoulders, hips and fingers, but almost any joint in the body can hurt, including the joints of the spine that connect the vertebrae to each other. A chiropractor can alleviate discomfort due to injuries or pain in the ligaments, muscles, tendons or cartilage.
Causes and Symptoms of Joint Pain
Joint pain can have various causes, including injury, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or diseases such as gout, lupus and fibromyalgia. Arthritis alone causes severe joint pain in one out of every four adults. Many of these conditions cause inflammation, which is a factor in what makes us hurt. We all know joint pain when we feel it, but symptoms may include:
- Reduced range of motion
The older you are, the more likely you are to develop joint pain, but it is not necessarily something you have to live with. Joint pain can often be treated effectively, and once it’s under control, a healthy lifestyle combining good nutrition and recommended exercise will help you avoid or minimize the joint pain that may come with aging.
No matter what your symptoms are, joint pain can slow you down, and if it’s not addressed, it can damage the joint permanently in some cases. Rather than living with joint pain, getting treatment for it can provide relief, may slow the progression of damage, and can help you stay active and enjoying life. A chiropractor can assess the reason for your joint discomfort and recommend appropriate treatment.
How Chiropractors Treat Joint Pain
In addressing joint pain, chiropractors can draw on a variety of treatment techniques depending on the location and specific nature of the pain. They focus on correcting structure to restore function—and when joints are functioning well, they hurt less. Chiropractors also have a deep understanding of the biomechanics and interrelationships within your musculoskeletal system. For example, arthritis in your knee joint can affect the way you walk, often resulting in back pain by throwing off how you carry your body weight.
The treatment techniques chiropractors use to treat joint pain include:
- Soft tissue adjustment to treat tenderness and spasms
- Traction or exercise to help you recover range of motion
- Ultrasound, cold laser therapy or mild electrical stimulation to reduce swelling and decrease pain and stiffness.
Chiropractors can also recommend exercises you can do at home and other lifestyle changes that can help with discomfort and prevent additional damage. However, you should seek immediate medical care (go to the ER or call 911) if you’ve been seriously injured, if the joint looks deformed or you cannot move it, or if the pain is severe.
If you have joint pain, chiropractors use conservative, hands-on treatment designed to reduce pain and restore function with fewer and less intense side effects than with medications or surgery. Chiropractic care is widely recognized for its effectiveness in handling all types of musculoskeletal pain. So for those with joint pain from overuse, injury, arthritis or a host of other factors, you may find relief naturally through chiropractic treatment to restore your body’s function and comfort.