In a normal and healthy back, each joint in your spine should move freely and independently.
For a visual aid, it might be helpful to imagine a normal spine functioning like a big spring moving freely in every direction. If your spine has a joint restriction it is similar to having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move as a whole, but a portion of it is no longer functioning.
In some situations, they are formed by the individual suffering from an accident or injury. In other cases, they develop from a repetitive strain or through poor posture. Being overweight, smoking, strenuous work, and emotional stress can increase the risk of you suffering from problems.
If a joint is restricted there is often swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since your spine works as a unit, and not as isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of your spine can have a negative impact on other areas of your back or your back as a whole. It may be helpful to think of this situation as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one rower quits, the others are placed under additional stress and can become overworked.
You may notice that you do not have your full range of motion. In some situations, movement may increase your discomfort.
Pain from a restricted joint often starts around your rib cage and then moves up & down your spine. Always be sure to contact us if you experience any chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual cough, indigestion or flu-like complaints. Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in arthritis - much like the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes premature wearing of your tire.
Physiotherapy has been proven to be both the safest and most effective treatment for joint restrictions. At our office we offer several different tools to help ease your pain. To speed your recovery, you should avoid activities that make your pain worse. Be sure to take frequent breaks if you have a lot of sedentary activity. Yoga has also been shown to help back pain sufferers so consider joining a class or finding one online.