Joint Restriction vs Joint Misalignment
Most patients come into the office and say, something is "out of line" and sometimes it is, but just as often the joints are restricted and not moving. So, let's talk about the difference between the two and how chiropractors are joint specialists.
Joint "restriction" or "fixation" is when a joint is unable to move through its normal range of motion and has become immobile. It typically feels like it's "stuck" and patients will experience stiffness and sometimes pain around the joint. Joint restriction is caused by inflammation in and around the joint after it's been irritated or injured. If you don't take care of your joints (i.e you don't eat well, exercise, work on your mobility, etc.) the smooth surfaces of synovial joints begin to degenerate and cartilage becomes replaced by bone. This results in joints that are painful, restricted, and don't have the integrity they once had. This is called osteoarthritis and once you've got osteoarthritis affecting your joints treatment switches to symptom management and attempting to keep it from progressing.
Joint misalignment is basically what is sounds like, when the surfaces that make up the joint are not properly aligned with each other. This can develop over time or result from an acute injury among other things. Chiropractors typically look at joint alignment differently than MD's. MD's will examine and treat for joint dislocation (when the two surfaces have completely separated and displaced) or medical subluxation (a severe joint misalignment that is a sub-dislocation.) Chiropractors are looking at your joints for misalignments that are causing inflammation, pinching nerves or tissues, structural problems, and ultimately causing pain (usually back pain.) It takes practice and expertise to evaluate the joints, but patient's descriptions often give key information about where the problem is.
How Chiropractors Can Help
As I said before, chiropractors are joint experts! This means they're good at evaluating joint range of motion, alignment, posture, the tissues around the joint and their influence, and how it's affecting your function. There's really nobody else in the medical world who looks at your joints more in-debt than a chiropractor. Orthopedic MDs are great for evaluating trauma and pathology and offering medication and surgery but don't offer joint manipulation to get your joints moving and aligned. At AccessHealth we perform manual joint manipulation along with soft tissue therapies and rehabilitative exercises. By throwing all the treatments that we can at the problem our patients recover faster, it costs less, and they avoid dangerous and scary medical procedures.
We hope this sheds some light on joint dysfunction and what we can do to help. If you've got any questions or are wondering if our clinic can help, give us a call for a consultation!