Your spine is built from 24 bones stacked on top of one another with a soft "disc" between each segment that allows for flexibility. Normally, each joint in your spine should be able to move freely and independently. To help you to visualize what this looks like, imagine a normal spine functioning like a big spring moving freely in all directions. A spine that has a restriction of one or more joints is similar to having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move as a whole, but a part of it no longer is able to function as it should.
Joint restrictions are able to devlop in multiple ways. Sometimes they form or are brought on by an accident or through some kind of injury. Other times, they are created from repetitive strains or prolonged poor posture. Being overweight, smoking, strenuous work, and emotional stress can make you much more likely to stuggle with problems and restrictions in your joints.
Restricted joints give rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of pain and continually finding yourself in a state of discomfort. In many cases a joint restriction causes swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since your spine functions as one single unit, instead of isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of your spine often causes "compensatory" problems in another area or even in multiple other areas of your spine. It may be helpful to image your spine as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one of the rowers quits, the others are placed under additional stress and can become overworked.
Joint restrictions most commonly cause you to experience feelings of tenderness and discomfort. You may notice a decrease in your range of motion. Movement in some cases may in fact increase your discomfort. If you are experiencing any pain from a restricted joint it will often trickles around your rib cage or up & down your spine. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if you are experiencing symptoms that such as: any chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual cough, indigestion or flu-like complaints.
Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in some cases of arthritis - very similar to the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes early wear and tear of your tire.
You should recognize that your problem is very common and for the most part easily treatable. Chiropractic care has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment process to deal with your joint restrictions. Our office offers multiple ways to help you deal with your pain. To speed your recovery, you should avoid activities that aggrivate or add to your pain. Be sure to take frequent and consistent breaks from sedentary activity. Yoga has also been shown to help back pain sufferers so consider joining a class or finding one online.