Joints are sensitive structures lined with cartilage and held together with ligaments. Some joints also have disk-like structures within them, e.g. the ‘menisci’ in the knee joints. Joints are usually damaged when they are forced to make a movement for which they are not designed, in an accident, for example. Torn ligaments and other joint structures tend to cause severe pain and swelling, usually rendering the affected area immobile.
Apart from trauma, there are many possibilities as to why a joint becomes irritated. One of the more likely is a chronic strain caused by long term bad posture, body asymmetry or repetitive strain. These may occur seemingly without warning or reason. Arthritis (Osteoparthritis) is another major cause, as the joint structures starts to degenerate.
This condition can happen in large joints or very small joints. The facet joints of the spine, for example, are often implicated in neck and low back pain. These are small joints are formed by small protrusions coming off the spinal bones (vertebrae). Irritation in these joints often causes muscle spasm. A common symptom of facet irritation is pain when arching the neck ort back.
Other, rarer causes are diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or gout.
Symptoms of normal larger joint strain are:
- Pain within the area of the joint
- Swelling around the joint
- Heat and redness around the joint
- Severe stiffness and immobility
Joint strain requires a careful and expert diagnosis by a trained professional. It is a common presentation in clinic and where appropriate, receives careful and expert treatment. Firstly an assessment and analysis is performed to establish how serious the problem is and then, if appropriate, gentle treatment is performed to stabilize structures, reduce inflammation, and facilitate the healing of the structures causing the symptoms.
Ultimately the aim is not just to treat it but prevent the symptoms from reoccurring. This includes education on how to keep the area in question healthy in the future. Please call to talk to a trained professional if you want to know more.