A joint is defined as a place in the body where two bones come together. They’re the structures that enable us to move. You knew that, right?
But wait! It’s a little more complicated than that. Here are 7 interesting facts about joints you may not know.
- Not all joints move. There are places in our bodies where bones meet but don’t move at all. The skull is the primary example of this. When we’re born, we have bony plates in our heads (“fontanelles”) separated by connective tissue that allows our skulls to grow. Over time, these are replaced by “sutures,” bony material that connects the various plates. Yes, these are considered joints, but they don’t move.
- The biggest joint. Can you guess it? It’s your knee. Here, three bones connect: your thigh bone (femur), your kneecap (patella) and your shin bone (tibia). The knee is called a hinge joint because of the way it moves through a specific plane like a door hinge without twisting much. Bonus fact: Babies don’t have kneecaps. Their knees start out as cartilage and only turn to bone over several years’ time.
- The most flexible joints. Unlike hinge joints that only move through a limited plane, joints like your hips and shoulders allow you a much greater range of motion, including rotation. These are called ball and socket joints because of their structure. The ball-shaped end of one bone fits into an indented socket in an adjacent bone, and these are held together with strong ligaments.
- Why your joints pop. Everybody’s joints crack sometimes, but why? It’s not because the bones are out of place or bumping against each other. It’s gas, plain and simple. When the joint capsule—the structure that surrounds and protects a joint—gets stretched out by movement or pressure, it can release the gas that’s built up in the fluid that cushions the joint. That results in a cracking noise.
- The joint voted most likely to be injured. It’s the knee. Aside from it being the biggest joint in the body, it’s the one that people hurt most often. The kneecap is the most-commonly fractured bone—this can happen from a fall, being hit with something, or as the result of a car crash. The knee is also subject to other injuries like sprains (ligament damage), strains (muscle and connective tissue damage) and tears.
- Joints are designed to take a beating. Although joint injuries are not uncommon, the average person takes millions of steps a year, so they’re designed to bear up under constant use. Not only that, they must tolerate great force—several times your body weight due to running, jumping, lifting and so on. Joints are complex feats of engineering!
- The most common joint problem. Osteoarthritis affects almost everyone to some degree by the time they’re in their 60s. This type of arthritis involves wearing down of the cartilage and cushioning structures that protect the places where the bones move against each other. There’s no known cure for OA, but there are some promising treatments that can delay or prevent a joint replacement in people who would have been candidates for this surgery in the past.
We depend on our joints for the most physical of movements—running, sports, lifting and carrying—as well as the most delicate ones—typing, writing, playing an instrument or creating art. While they’re designed to do all this, they’re not indestructible.
If joint issues are impeding your ability to work, play sports or engage in beloved hobbies, it’s time to get help. Contact the experts at Flexogenix™ for a consultation. They’ll show you how to take care of your joints and discuss the latest non-invasive, regenerative treatment options to ensure you get the most of these remarkable structures for many years to come.