Have you heard the term synovial fluid, or maybe synovial joints? These joints get their name because of the synovial fluid found inside them. This fluid has a thick texture that protects the bones from rubbing on each other. It acts like oil in a car’s engine; stopping friction and protecting moving parts.
The synovial fluid carries out other tasks too − acting as a shock absorber and bringing in nutrients and chemicals that mend damage. As your joint moves, the pressure spreads these healing substances around – similar to squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.
Most joints that allow us to move are synovial joints, such as knees and hips. These joints contain special cells that make the synovial fluid. The bones are lined by tough, slippery cartilage and wrapped in a membrane. For example, your thigh and shin bones meetat the knee and the ends of each bone are lined with cartilage. The joint is wrapped up, keeping the fluid inside and the joint together, allowing it to move safely and stay strong.
Joint damage can harm the synovial fluid by triggering fluid changes that hurt the joint more. For example, arthritis causes inflammation in the joint, damaging the cartilage and changing the make-up of the synovial fluid. Imagine the effect that dirt in a car’s engine oil has. It damages the moving pieces and the way they function − similar to what happens in our joints.
Joint injury can also alter the synovial fluid. Cartilage can be injured by a chip in the underlying bone, which then affects the fluid. Or when a ligament tears, the synovial fluid loses some of its lubricating ability, which damages the joint. These changes happen soon after injury, so it’s important to seek care promptly.
We know that injury and damage can harm synovial fluid. So, what can we do to maintain its health? There’s a saying − motion is lotion. Staying active keeps your joints moving and pushing the lubricant around. Walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, and yoga are great gentle activities.
It’s important to protect your joints from injury, too. There are many ways to do this; weight training builds muscle mass and can increase flexibility. Specific exercises increase the muscle around a joint, giving it strength.
If you have any concerns about your joints, see your chiropractor, they can offer treatment where appropriate, and advice on how to maintain good joint health.