Something that affects a lot of people, young and old, is joint pain. A lot of people live their life day-to-day with no answers and settling with the problem. I thought for this post, I would address what the joints in our body look like, some common joint issues, and ways to promote healthy functioning within joints. I’m going to make this a two-part installment because it will be a lot to read as one blog post.
So let’s go over the basics. What are joints? Joints are the things the allow us to bend and move our neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, wrists, fingers, thumbs, ankles, and toes. Without joints, we couldn’t do basic functions like pick things up and hold them because our fingers would no longer be able to wrap around them. We couldn’t run or jump, we would barely even be able to move at all. So you can see that obviously joints play a large role in our daily lives.
The joints are very important as far as working with the rest of the body. Literally, the word ‘joint’ means the place where two bones meet. So joints connect the different bones in our body. Some joints are mobile and some are not. The skull is actually made up of joints called sutures that are flexible at birth but fuse together as we get older, to the point that they no longer move.
The vertebrae of the spine are actually individual joints that give us the ability to bend and twist. They don’t move as much as other joints like the hip, knee, and elbow though, as too much range of motion would make for a very different life experience. Some joints, like those found in the arms and legs, only move in one direction, similarly to a door hinge. That’s why these are aptly called hinge joints.
We also have joints referred to as ball-and-socket joints that are found in our hips and shoulders. One end of the bone is round (the ball part) and fits into a socket the other bone contains. This structure has a much larger amount of motion possible than hinge joints offer. Watching a gymnast move around is one great example of the ball-and-socket joints at their full capacity. Lastly, the patella is a triangular bone, commonly known as the knee cap, that protects the knee-joint.
Joints are surrounded with a particular fluid called synovial fluid to help with motion. Again, think of a door hinge. It needs to be oiled so that there are no creaks in the movement. In the same way, our joints are constantly cushioned in this fluid to ensure we aren’t ‘squeaking and creaking’. Eating foods that are high in Omega-3 oils is one way of making sure there is enough fluid to protect the joints.
Most diseases that happen within the skeletal system involve the joints. Osteoarthritis is an exception, where bones become brittle and are more liable to break. Most arthritic conditions involve the joints no longer being able to move, or in doing so, creates a painful process. Doctors agree that osteoarthritis is a condition that develops at a young age but doesn’t produce consequences until later in life. So the eating habits you develop at an early age truly have an impact on how your body ages.