Mobilizing Your Joints
It’s miserable when your joints ache. It’s worse when they’re stiff and everyday movement hurts. Often, gentle exercise has everything feeling right again. But sometimes it doesn’t. If that’s the case, it might be time to call the osteopath.
You’ve got a lot of joints in your body: Hinge joints (your knees, for example), ball and socket joints (your hip, for example) and saddle joints (you’ve got one in your thumb). There are other types too. Joints are points where bones meet, covered in cartilage at their ends to smooth the friction of movement. Tendons and ligaments support the moving joints in your body, while muscles initiate and sustain movement. They’re complex things, so it’s not surprising that sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes things get a bit stuck: joints can be irritated and inflamed through overuse, injury, and arthritis; surrounding muscles that should support the joint may become imbalanced in terms of strength and flexibility. Without movement to stimulate synovial fluid, the joint becomes stiffer and more painful. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments tense to support the pained joint, potentially creating even more pain. Meanwhile, you attempt to carry on with normal life, limping on the injured joint. Or perhaps you attempt to rest it completely, but both options create more pain. There is another way — it’s time to call your Osteopath.
What can my Osteopath do?
Your Osteopath understands your musculoskeletal system and will employ manual manipulation techniques to mobilize your “stuck” joint. This will usually involve stabilizing one segment of the joint while applying force to the other, usually in the direction of the tightness. The pressure may be forceful and seemingly sudden, or gentle and oscillating, but the result is the same — a return to a fuller range of motion for the joint, a reduction in pain and improved balance and functionality of the joint and surrounding muscles. What sort of mobilization treatment is appropriate will be determined by your symptoms, their causes, and the anatomy of the joint itself.Mobilizations can treat pain and stiffness in any of the body’s joints, but they’re particularly sought after for shoulder pain, chronic back pain, heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), ankle pain and knee osteoarthritis.
What does treatment feel like?
Joint mobilization should not hurt. Many patients experience almost immediate relief from pain, although they might be sore in the area worked on for a day or two afterwards.
Following your treatment, your osteopath will prescribe exercises to maintain and build upon your mobility gains. It’s important that you follow this program of exercises as the movement patterns that caused problems in the first place are likely to reoccur.
Joint mobilizations are a non-invasive option for dealing with the pain and debilitating effects of reduced range of motion in your joints. Call us to make an appointment with one of our Osteopaths today. We can help!