If you have a background in athletics, you may experience some stiffness. If you don’t work out at all, you may also experience this feeling. Stiffness could involve difficulty moving your arm a certain way or bending your knees. Although you have found a way to work your way around these issues, they could point to something deeper. You may have to address these issues, specifically if they have to do with joint instability.
What is Joint Instability?
Joints allow you to move your body, this means that when they work properly, they make a full range of motion possible. For your joints to work properly, the muscles around them must be strong as well as stable. When your muscles weaken or your ligaments overstretch, they are unable to keep your joints in the right place.
Your ligaments, especially, are important in keeping the bones in your joints in the proper place, both during movement as well as during rest. Tendons and muscles are an active part of keeping joints in place when they are moving.
Where Does Joint Instability Most Often Occur?
The most common place joint instability occurs is in the knee, shoulder, and ankle. The neck, hip, and elbow are also quite common. Some people have also noted it occurring in their big toe and thumb.
Importance of Mobility and Stability
There are issues that come with joint stability and poor range of motion. Lack of range of motion and joints that are overextended can cause issues to your health. Your joints become overextended, and the surrounding ligaments become loose. Weak muscles may also be the cause.
Stiffness could be an indication of a limited range of motion. Being stiff may cause injury. When you cannot move freely, not only could you experience injury, but you also may experience pain. The joint could also degenerate which means you cannot rely on it to function properly. Joints need movement to maintain optimal health. When you don’t move your joints, this can lead to degeneration or injury. Moving them in a way it is not used to can also result in injury.
To prevent injury and manage pain, the body needs to engage in regular exercise. Working on mobility, in a controlled manner, is a good way of doing so. If you want to be a better athlete, or even just have a healthy range of motion, it is important that your joints are well supported.
Symptoms of Joint Instability
Sometimes, injuries can happen. If you are experiencing pain, it may be an injury. Pain may also be an indication of joint instability. If you keep experiencing joint dislocation, or you feel your joint is giving out, this may also be a sign of joint instability. Tenderness could also be a sign.
Joint Instability Diagnosis
It may be difficult for you to identify if you are experiencing joint instability. If you suspect you may be experiencing this due to your symptoms, you can visit an orthopedic clinic. The doctors there will run tests on you to find out where your discomfort is stemming from. You will also be asked about how you got injured and to describe how the injury feels. The doctor may also give you a physical exam to find out the strength of your joints and if they are loose. An X-ray or MRI may also be a part of the exam.
Causes of Joint Instability
There are a few situations that can cause joint instability. A fall could dislocate a joint. It may also cause a stretch or tear in a ligament. Overuse can also cause instability. For example, if you are an active swimmer, you may experience shoulder instability. There are also some people who experience multidirectional instability (they are double-jointed) which means they have looser joints than the average person.
Joint Instability Treatment Options
The first treatment option for dealing with joint instability is to follow the acronym RICE. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help your joints to heal. It is also recommended to wear a brace during this recuperation period. While you are healing, you can take over-the-counter painkillers to manage any discomfort.
Seeing a physical therapist regularly can help to make your joints stronger. It can also make you more flexible, lessen the pain and prevent your joints from being further damaged. Your physical therapist can work with you by giving you strength routines for you to work on at home. They may also help you with an exercise routine in their office or clinic.
Joint injections may be another option for treating joint instability. Your doctor may give you a steroid or platelet-rich plasma injection. Stem cells may also be injected into the joint. These injections are to help your body heal naturally at a more rapid rate. It may ease inflammation as well as lessen the amount of pain you are in because of your injury. Perhaps your doctor may recommend more than one injection as part of your treatment plan.
The last resort is surgery. Surgery can help stabilize your ligaments in the joint as well as repair them. The surgery may not even have to be invasive. Sometimes, all that is required are tiny incisions. The incision will allow the surgeon to get a good look at the issue at hand.
Doing physical therapy after the surgery will help in the healing process. Your doctor may provide you with a workout plan. Not only will these exercises help strengthen your ligaments and improve mobility, but they can also reduce scarring caused by the incisions.
It is important that if you are experiencing pain, you have it checked. Untreated issues may lead to bigger problems down the road. Having a healthy range of motion and joint stability are important aspects in maintaining your overall health and reducing the risk of injury. Mobility Bone & Joint Institute is a clinic that can help you with your joint issues. We have a team of physicians that can help get to the bottom of your discomfort.
Do you have questions about the diagnosis and treatment of Joint Instability and Dislocation at Mobility Bone & Joint Institute?
Call (978) 794-1946 or click here to schedule an appointment at our Andover, MA office.
Call (603) 898-2244 or click here to schedule an appointment at our Salem, NH office.