Joint misalignment vs joint fixation can be a confusing topic when it comes to the spine and other joints in your body, so we’ll discuss the difference between the two and which is more likely. 

Joint Restriction

Joint “restriction” or “fixation” is when a joint is unable to move adequately and has become somewhat immobile. It typically feels like “it’s stuck” and patients will experience stiffness and sometimes pain around the joint.

Joint restriction leads to 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 may result 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

Joint misalignment is basically what it 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 subtle misalignments that are causing inflammation, affecting nerves or tissues, structural problems, and that ultimately causing pain. There’s some debate whether your joints can actually become misaligned. At our chiropractic practice, we refer to misalignment from a global perspective and usually only use this term when referring to scoliosis curves or postural distortions.

It takes practice and expertise to evaluate the joints, but the patient’s descriptions often give key information about where the problem is.

Joint Restriction, Joint Misalignment, and Chiropractic

There’s really nobody else in the medical world who looks at your joints more in-debt than a chiropractor. Orthopedic MDs are incredible and great for evaluating trauma and pathology and offering medication and surgery but don’t offer therapies like joint manipulation.

At AccessHealth we perform manual joint manipulation along with soft tissue therapies, needling, and rehabilitative exercises. By throwing all the treatments that we can at the problem our patients recover faster. Hopefully, this sheds some light on joint dysfunction and what we can do to help.

Dr. Brianna Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. She treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, Graston Technique, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include pregnancy related conditions, back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating pregnant women, especially those who're exercising and want to stay moving during their pregnancy.

If you're interested in whether she or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.