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Chiropractic Care Can Give That Jammed Joint a Knuckle Sandwich

By Dr. Molly Casey

Jamming a Joint

We’ve all done it. Maybe it has been a minute since the last time it happened, but if you’re reading this sentence, you’ve done it. You’ve jammed a joint.

Maybe it was in the middle of the night and you hit a toe joint on the edge of the bed. Perhaps you were going to catch a ball and it hit a knuckle on a finger just right. Whatever it may be, jamming a joint can be painful, often for long periods of time. That obviously leads to a question: What do you do about it?

Stop and Assess

If you have jammed a joint, the first thing you should do is take a moment and assess. The immediate instinct often is to rub the joint or shake it out or, in sports terms, “shake it off.” That is fine, so long as it isn’t increasing pain and symptoms. Rubbing the area or shaking it off is instinctively done to stimulate other receptors in the joint area (ones other than pain receptors) in order to decrease pain. Once you catch your breath, if you need other intervention, such as band-aids for bleeding, take care of that.

These jams don’t always require medical attention. However, If there is significant consistent pain that does not decrease after the wearing off of the immediate experience, go ahead and get it checked. Please note that this does not mean all pain -- or even significant pain -- with movement will reduce immediately after the experience wears off; instead, if the significant pain of the actual experience never diminishes, seek medical attention sooner rather than later.

Rest and Ice

Rest the joint and ice it. Rest can be hard with these jams of the toes because you need to walk, and weight bearing can irritate it. If typing is part of your job, it can irritate the joint jammed on your finger. You can’t run or do heavy lifting exercises that exacerbate pain and symptoms of the jammed joint.

Ice is a great pain modulator. It numbs the joint and can be effective with controlling some of the swelling that often results. After icing, it can be helpful to perform non-weight bearing, gentle ranges of motion. Do not force the ranges of motion through pain; this is simply a practice to help stimulate the healing process and allow the joint some pain-free movement.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care can be helpful after you jam a joint. Getting a chiropractic adjustment to the spine and a manipulation to the affected joint itself can help speed the healing process, restore range of motion, and decrease pain and inflammation. The joint itself and its activity is controlled by the brain, and the process of healing is controlled by the brain; it’s logical to infer anything that increases or promotes optimal communication between the brain and that specific joint would be helpful for expediting the healing process.

So, if the jammed joint is in the finger, have your chiropractor check and adjust the lower cervical spine (neck) because the nerves exiting that area of the spine innervate the hand and fingers. If the jammed joint is a toe, the lower lumbar spine (low back) is the area to adjust.

Chiropractors can also manipulate the finger or toe joint itself in order to restore joint motion that is often decreased because of the trauma of the actual jam. There are multiple ways to manipulate joints and plenty of them are very gentle even if you’re still experiencing consistent pain in the joint. The sooner that more joint movement is restored to normal, the better opportunity your body has for healing in full and as efficiently as possible.

Jamming a joint may seem like a silly injury, but it can be painful and negatively impact whatever task you’re trying to do -- especially if that task is related to your work. We forget how much we use our fingers and toes during our daily life, so injuring them can put a damper on routine but necessary activities. It’s frustrating.

You can take conservative actions to help your body heal in the quickest and most efficient way possible by making smart choices and immediately pursuing chiropractic care.

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