Our noisy joints are one of the medical mysteries of the body, which most people experience during their lifetime. When a joint is “cracked” many people experience a feeling of release and a reduction in joint tension.
To understand the possible causes of joint sound, let’s first review the anatomy of a joint. A joint is comprised of many structures:
- Ligaments – elastic bands of tissue which connect bones
- Tendons – elastic bands of tissue which connect muscles to bones
- Cartilage – a firm, yet flexible connective tissue which may deteriorate with age or injury
- Meniscus – a curved type of cartilage found in some joints
- Synovial membrane – encapsulates the joint
- Synovial fluid – acts as a lubricant
- Bursas – fluid-filled sacs which help cushion the joint
There are also several types of joints found in the body which allow for a different type of movement:
- Ball and socket joints – rotation (ex: shoulder)
- Hinge joints – bending and straightening (ex: fingers)
- Pivot joints – limited rotation (ex: neck)
- Ellipsoidal joints – a variety of movements and rotations (ex: wrist)
Knowing all the complicated structures to a joint as well as the types of joints, it’s no surprise that the shoulders are often the loudest. Grinding, clicking, popping, cracking sounds are quite common in the shoulders.
What causes the joints to make noise? There are a variety of possible reasons as well as theories as to why joints make sounds, including:
- Compression of nitrogen bubbles within the synovial fluid of a joint.
- Ligaments stretching and releasing
- Tendons changing position
As we age, our joints tend to make more noise as cartilage wears down and there is more friction and space to create sound. It was once thought that regular cracking or joints cause arthritis, but that’s no longer believed to be true. However, a recent study suggested a relationship between habitual finger joint cracking and decreased hand strength and joint swelling.
While popping and cracking is normal, it’s imfortant to visit a physician if you experience pain or swelling in a joint.
Joint health tips:
- Stretch before physical activities
- Practice good lifestyle and work ergonomics
- Good posture
- Try supplements such as mega-3 fatty acids, calcium and glucosamine (speak to your doctor first!)
- Practice good bone health
We’re here for you and all your joints! If we can answer questions or help you with healthy joints, please reach out to us: 519-258-8544
Likely you’ve heard the importance of good bone health to keep you active, strong and mobile throughout your entire life.
Bone mass density is determined by the results of a bone scan conducted by a physician. Low bone density may develop into osteoporosis in later life.
Why is good bone health important?
Low bone density and osteoporosis not only affects your bones, it can have a serious impact on your quality of life.
Also consider that bones are responsible for red and white blood cell production. As people age and their bone health diminishes, it is no surprise that older people may also experience reduced energy levels, digestive problems and other issues associated with a weakening immune system.
Factors that affect bone health:
- Level of physical activity
- Poor nutrition as a child or teenage
- Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine use
- Use of certain medications
While some of these factors cannot be changed, there are steps that can be taken at any stage in life to improve your bone health, including:
- Regular exercise
- Eating a diet healthy, well-balanced diet
- Supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium vitamin K2 and pre-biotics
With many seniors experiencing aches and pains from everyday activities; this may limit their mobility. Knowing that exercise is a critical element to good bone health, these common aches and pains can act as the catalyst to a loss of bone mass density as a result of a less active lifestyle.
Working with a chiropractor through all stages of life, helping to keep joints properly aligned and mobile will help keep the common aches and pains at bay, naturally.
Chiropractors can help address bone and joint issues such as
- Limited mobility
With your overall health and particularly your bone health, we believe it’s better to be proactive than reactive. If you have any questions or would like to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 519-258-8544.
By Dr. Scott Colasanti
In previous blogs I have discussed the importance of the relationship of the impact of certain parts of the body on other parts. For example, if you sprain your ankle, and you are limping, other parts of your body like your knees and your hips may be affected because they have to compensate for the abnormal biomechanics of your gait.
When it comes to examples like that, it takes no stretch of the imagination to see that relationship. However, abnormal biomechanical changes in the body usually have much more far-reaching impacts. An often-overlooked area of the body is the temporomandibular joint or simply the TMJ. This is essentially our ‘jaw joint’ which is a hinge-like structure that connects or lower and upper jaws, and hence allows us to chew and swallow our food and talk, among other things. The importance of this little joint can often be overlooked.
There is an integral relationship between our TMJ and our neck and upper back muscles. Basically, when we use our jaw, our jaw and neck muscle fire simultaneously, and vice versa. Poor posture like ‘head forward posture’ or slouching will impact our TMJ biomechanics. TMJ problems will impact our neck biomechanics. Now here comes the stretch; Lets go back to the sprained ankle. You start limping. Eventually your opposite knee and hip starts to hurt because of it. You are now ‘shifting’ your biomechanics in a way that will have an impact on your upper back and neck, and yes even your jaw. Further to that, neck and TMJ problems may be related to other issues like headaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sinus problems and even snoring.
Health care professionals including dentists often overlook the importance and the integral role that the TMJ has on the body. The best approach is to address the whole body and this should involve an integrated approach among professionals. I can address issues with the neck and back, or may directly treat the TMJ with acupuncture or LASER therapy. I often refer patients back to their dentist to deal with specific issues involving the TMJ, and there are more and more dentists out there that acknowledge the global impact that the TMJ has on our health.