Joint pain is not fun. When your parts ache because you move, it’s a significant detractor in quality of life. Inflammation, swelling, tender muscles and bone spurs causing irritation to soft tissues and nerves are considerable health problems for many in North America. Before we look at some of the early signs of these problems and what to watch out for, let’s look at why this wear-and-tear type of arthritis affects our joints.
First, let’s dispel the myth about age.
Age is not a contributing factor to arthritis. Your joints are designed to last a lifetime. In fact, if all goes well and everything is properly taken care of, they should outlast you! That being said, time can be a challenge to our joints, but only if the environment of the joint is not healthy over that period of time. A healthy joint environment will last forever; an unhealthy one will fail over time.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
If anyone has ever told you that you have arthritis and it’s because you’re getting older and there is nothing you can do, you may want to consider a second opinion!
If it hurts in your hands when you use them to cook, clean, use tools or play with the kids and pursue hobbies and interests, it’s hard to derive the pleasure that is usually obtained in completing or engaging in those tasks. If your knees are sore when you go for a walk, play a sport, after you sit and watch a movie or use the stairs, life isn’t as full as you’d like it to be at any stage. If your back aches, your neck pains you or you just can’t find a comfortable way to sit, stand or exist, then it’s a sign that something hasn’t been working right for quite some time.
Certainly it’s been much longer than when you first noticed the signs of arthritis
Our joints require movement to feed themselves. There is no direct blood supply to cartilage, so healthy movement helps to get wastes out of the joint tissues and nutrients into the tissues so they can heal and repair themselves on a daily basis. If the movement is bad, either too much, too little, or with poor alignment, this process is impaired and the tissues will start to prematurely degenerate. In fact some would argue that any degeneration is premature as it shouldn’t happen at all.
When this process starts, it’s a progressive deterioration that ensues and can be accelerated depending on many variables including nutrition, existing health status and fitness. Most of the pain associated with joint problems comes from the tissues around the joint. The dysfunction may be in the joint itself, but because some parts like bone and cartilage have no nerve endings for pain, we may not know of any problems until the soft tissues become affected by inflammation, swelling or being overworked in compensation to the underlying problem.
Quite often, the discomfort arising in this fashion may not even be where the original cause or source of the problem is. Although seeking and finding relief for these symptoms is of course desirable, unless correcting the cause or source of the dysfunction is dealt with first, further deterioration can occur increasing the likelihood of having symptoms that cannot be abated.
So with all that doom and gloom news regarding joint dysfunction and pain, it’s clear that prevention and preservation of our body parts is instrumental to a healthy life. Short of that, like so many other health problems, early detection can be beneficial as well.
Here are some key signs and options that can help deter joint problems in your life:
- If any part of you is consistently sore (2 or more days per week for 4 or more weeks in a row) it could be a sign of early joint or biomechanical problems.
- Having stiffness or being slow to get moving after waking in the morning may be signs of early inflammation and swelling in the joints or tissues around the joint.
- Noticing that you just can bend, turn your neck, twist your body, lift your leg or reach with your arms as far or as easily as you used to may be a sign of joint dysfunction…it is NOT just you getting older!
- Noticing changes in bowel, lung, heart or other organ and gland function can be a sign of a somato-visceral reflex (your physical body disrupting the way your internal parts are working…kind of like a reverse heart attack where you feel it in your arm or jaw, but there is no actual problem in the arm or jaw), especially if no known reason can be determined for those organ problems, it can be a sign that your parts, especially your spine, may not be sitting or moving right. For example, a rib or vertebra not sitting or moving right can often cause heart flutter and chest pain.
- Get questionable joints assessed by a chiropractor, physiotherapist or other qualified health provider for optimal function before pain or other symptoms arise. Just like going to the dentist and having a checkup for your teeth, you skeleton and joints require an occasional checkup as well. And because your spine has such an intimate relationship with your nervous system, having chiropractic checkups on your spine is instrumental to preserving nervous system function and all its healing and functional benefits.
No one knows your body like you do and no one can feel what you’re feeling, it’s true. However, there are qualified individuals that can help make sense of what you’re noticing as well as challenge you in ways to see if you’re actually working and operating at optimum instead of just “getting by”. I want to be able to call you up when you’re 90 plus years old and invite you to the beach to play volleyball without having to worry about how to get the walker or the wheelchair through the sand!
Are you with me?Get and keep your joints moving properly today, especially your spine, and it will help you to continue having great experiences in life…before it’s too late.