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DAMAGE TO THE JOINTS AND LIGAMENTS: MISALIGNED JOINTS

The facet joints which unite each vertebra to its immediate neighbours may be jerked out of alignment by severe sudden stress, such as a twisting movement: this is called subluxation. A still more violent movement may pull the bones even farther apart so that the joint becomes unstable; this is called dislocation. It is uncommon unless there is severe force. Subluxation may also be the result of growing older. The intervertebral discs flatten out as they lose their moisture, so that the spine becomes shorter, and the ligaments which support it become slack. This may allow some play in the facet joints, with a greater chance of misalignment.

Both types of injury, subluxation and dislocation, are more likely to occur when the body is bent over and the joints are already undergoing tension.

In either case, there is some tearing of the ligaments which bind the facets together, and which are part of the synovial capsule enclosing the joint. There may be some internal bleeding; the irritated capsule becomes inflamed and swollen, and there is pain.

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