Simply put; a joint is the meeting point between 2 or more bones. With 206 bones in the body, and only one exception of the hyoid bone in your neck, every bone is joined to another – meaning we have a lot of joints to look after! The joints can be viewed as bumpers at either end of every bone to offer protection every time the joints move.
Moveable joints, like the knees, ankles and elbows, are made up of bone, connective tissue (cartilage, tendons and ligaments), synovial tissue and muscle. All of these elements need to work together in order to for our joints to remain healthy and flexible.
Our bodies are made up of 3 different types of joint:
- Synovial joints: Made up of bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and synovial fluid. These include your neck, hips and shoulders, elbows and knees, hands, wrists and ankles.
- Joints with slight movement: These joints are connected to each other with strips of cartilage and have far less mobility. These can be found in your spine.
- Static joints: Certain joints in the skull are completely fixed and will not move at all.
Why is cartilage so important?
Cartilage is the key to healthy and flexible joints and is the main component to the way our joints work. It can be found at each end of the bone and acts as a shock absorber every time we move in order to avoid our bone surfaces grinding together. It ensures that our joints move comfortably and smoothly and if it wasn’t there then our joints would quickly become damaged and painful.
How joints become damaged
ver time, cartilage can become thinner and wear away. With overuse, injury or simply as we age, cartilage can break down and this causes the space between our bones to narrow, meaning the bones will eventually begin to rub together. This will then cause inflammation, stiffness and damage that can lead to possible osteoarthritis and limited, painful movements.