Joints have many different functions and therefore come in many different sizes and shapes. They are perfectly suited to the job they do. There are hinge joints, ball and socket, gliding and pivot types. All have different functions and all of course—have limits.
When joints are overtaxed or injured, the body goes into repair mode by creating an inflammatory response (think: swelling or a sprained ankle). An inflammation is an immune response the body uses by pouring white blood cells into an area, to digest and remove tissue debris (broken cells). If this happens repeatedly, over years, the joint can degenerate. The cartilage and soft tissue basically wear down to nothing. The joints, over time, become stiffer and lose range of motion. Pain eventually arrives and if the joint is a weight-bearing one, the stress is amplified.
The spine is no different. The vertebra has two main joints: the disc between each vertebra and the facets joints (small joints at the back of each vertebra that guide motion). When vertebra become misaligned, pressure builds in the nervous system and can block nerve flow. Chiropractic manipulation can remove blocks in the spine and improve nerve flow. Additionally, exercise is critical piece of the puzzle to keep joints moving, flexing and extending for a pain-free lifestyle.
Another factor that affects joint health over the long term is something called “leaky gut.” It is a problem of the small intestine in that the tight junctions in the absorptive membrane loosen up and allow larger molecules that aren’t normally absorbed to get into the body. Your immune system finds these molecules and deems them a foreign invader. Of course, they attack to neutralize them. For some reason, this inflammatory action ends up in some of the larger joints like the knee and hip. Almost all forms of arthritis can be connected back to leaky gut in some way. Fortunately, there are a number of supplements that can heal the small intestines’ absorptive membrane.
Dr. Allan Tomson, DC is the executive director of Neck, Back & Beyond Healing Arts, an integrative wellness center in Fairfax, with a satellite office in Manassas. He has skills and experience in functional medicine, visceral manipulation, cranial sacral therapy and Cayce protocols. To contact him, email ATomsonDC@gmail.com or visit NeckBackAndBeyond.com.