Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception
Open Mon-Sat · (03) 9859 5059 · BOOK online OR call Reception

Joints don’t go out – they are not socialites.


Dr Katie Willy - Osteopath

You know when you get a dicey pain you and hear the expression “my joint is out”, it’s not actually correct.  And it’s a good thing.

The body has built-in sensors around joints to constantly test tension applied to joints so our muscles can react to move you away from danger zones.  An in-built protection to try and prevent injury.

So what is happening when we feel a joint “is out”?

Let’s talk about spine joints here so back and neck joints, simply because these are the areas usually linked to being “out”.

When a joint is put under strain it will often react by inflaming and feel like it’s seized up.

What we’ve noted with clients is that the neck/back joint described as “OUT” has not moved beyond its safe physical capacity.  It has in fact been protected from moving too far. 

The seizing seems to happen when a joint was already under some duress (stiff, tense), as if it was being protected a little already and then asked to do a little more when you did a movement.  Often it seems to the person experiencing it, as if it was out-of-the-blue but it wont be.  There will have been a build up and it’s then a case of the-straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back.

What is the way forward?

Well firstly, stop worrying. 

A joint that feels “out” is physically stable and despite the pain has not moved out of place at all.  Something to try immediately is warmth.  Trust your gut with this and jump in the shower.  If the warm water running over the area feels lovely then consider to keep it warm.  So a microwaveable wheatbag, hot water bottle, stick-on 12 hour heat patch like Flexeze or Hotteze.

Maybe you are thinking “…but I thought you said it was inflamed? Why would I apply heat?” Quite right to question.  But spinal inflammation is a touch different to an ankle or knee injury for example.  Those joints, if they have been exposed to an abnormal movement such as an ankle sprain or twist in the knee, usually benefit from the RICE approach to injury ie. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. 

The spinal joint in question for being “out”, has moved in a normal range to become inflamed, but was already experiencing an imbalance in load or movement.  It was moving beyond it’s current protected space that causes the alarm bells in the body, hence the inflammation.

How long will it take to get better?

The good news is that most of these issues are pain free in 7-10 days.  The first 3 days can be quite intense but usually following that the painful symptoms settle and by the 7-10 days most people feel ok.

So is it worth being treated for it at all?

Yes for a few reasons.  There is likely to be an underlying issue to work through so the painful area doesn’t become vulnerable again, as well as the obvious reason for treatment which aims to reduce pain.

Even in the early stages, so in those first few days, our Osteos use ultrasound that seems to be a good settling intervention, and gentle coaxing of the muscles and joint with manual therapy.  Nothing sudden, nothing unexpected. 

Simply, treatment to reduce the alarm bells and provide focused advice for each individual situation.  After all everyone has a different life and responsibility requirements.  We help our clients navigate the best way to get back to it!

Just for the record, a joint can move “out” or become displaced under substantial traumas, and we mean substantial.


Contact Info

Phone : 03 9859 5059

Shop 3/74 Doncaster Road, Balwyn North 3104

The Village – Balwyn North