Joints can break down for a number of reasons, but sometimes the joint just breaks down due to overuse. This is where mechanical stress comes into play. Any number of factors can impact a joint and cause it to breakdown and eventually fail. It doesn’t just affect the large joints of the body, either.

You can have a mechanical stress injury to the back, the feet, or the hands. Your body is comprised of many different joints, and once they are misused, they breakdown and fail to cushion movement properly.

At Sports and Spine Orthopaedics, we will investigate the various reasons you are having pain in your joints. Just because we focus on the back, we do not necessarily ignore the pain in other joints of the body. Sometimes, those joints can cause pain due to a misalignment in the back. If you have a mechanical stress injury of the back, we can certainly help you with our board certified spinal surgeon. We also are dedicated to helping you overcome your pain – regardless of where it is located.


The causes of mechanical stress on a joint are numerous. In some cases, a congenital misalignment of the bones can sometimes put undue stress on the joint and cause pain and osteoarthritis. Certain disease processes can also cause harm to the joint, such as bone cancer that misaligns two bones. This can cause the joint to wear down faster than normal because of the stress from the misalignment.

Mechanical injury, such as a fracture of one of the involved bones, can lead to more stress being placed on the joint than usual. With correction of the injury, though, most joint stress is eliminated. You can also have weakness of the surrounding muscles and ligaments, and this is very true for mechanical stress injuries to the back.

If your abdominal muscles are weak and the muscles of the back are weak in general, you can put more stress on the joints in your back and cause arthritis pain and symptoms.

Carrying more weight than others is another possible cause for mechanical stress injuries. The joints are only designed to take on so much weight, but when you are overweight, the joints have to cushion more of an impact.

This can lead to the wearing down of the joints and cause pain. Even problems with the nerves that supply the muscles around a joint can cause the joint to wear down more quickly than normal.


The symptoms of mechanical stress against a joint are usually pain and osteoarthritis. You will have pain in the joints that are affected by these outside stresses, and you will usually experience stiffness in the joint and a loss of range of motion.

Arthritis means in general that the protective cushioning of the joint is worn down to the point that it cannot function anymore. Your joint is made up of a fluid, called synovial fluid, that cushions the joint. It is also made up of cartilage, or smooth, thin bone that protects the bones from scraping against each other.

When this cartilage is worn away, pain and loss of movement result. The mechanical causes of joint stress wear away this fluid and cartilage, and the resulting symptom is usually pain.


Medications are usually the first step in the treatment of mechanical stress on a joint. You can take over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen, to help diminish the pain and cut down on the swelling that often occurs with arthritis in a joint. We have a team of pain management professionals who can help you navigate the many confusing aspects of pain relief. If you need a narcotic pain medication for your joint injury or some newer pain medication, we can evaluate you and help you towards using these treatments.

In some cases, mechanical stress against a joint can only be healed by surgery. If the joint in question is your knee, then a knee replacement surgery is often necessary to eliminate pain.

However, the issue is more complicated for the back. The joints in your back are created by discs between vertebrae. These discs can be removed from your back and the two bones fused together. Most doctors are reluctant to perform this surgery because you will lose the flexibility in your back afterwards.

If you have a joint or back problem that is caused by mechanical stress, come in to see us at for a consultation to evaluate your pain. We can help you determine what is causing your pain, help you manage the pain you are having, and help you plan the least invasive treatment course possible. With an early diagnosis and careful treatment you don’t have to suffer from pain anymore!