In using osteopathic musculoskeletal medicine for arthritis treatment, we place a lot of emphasis on an idea known as “biotensegrity” or “tensegrity”. Tensegrity is the concept that rigid structures are suspended by flexible connections. A simple example is wooden pegs connected only by rubber bands. An online search will bring up much more complex tensegrity sculptures, but none are more complex than the human body. The soft tissues of the body act to balance the tension surrounding our bony skeleton in order to prevent too much wear on our joints.

Tensegrity and Osteoarthritis

In arthritic and other degenerative conditions, there is a breakdown in the body’s tensegrity. Bony damage is a result of this breakdown. However, the degree of pain and loss of function is related more to the loss of tensegrity than to the bony damage. This is why some people can have mild arthritis with a great deal of pain, while others have severe arthritis and almost no discomfort.

An osteopathic musculoskeletal specialist is trained to evaluate your body’s tensegrity and apply treatments that can help restore it. While we cannot repair the bony damage, we can often relieve pain and improve function. In addition, we look both upstream and downstream from the problem area to determine if imbalances elsewhere are placing undue wear on the arthritic joint. A short leg, hip imbalance, or ankle problem can all contribute to arthritis of the knee, for example. In other patients, these same imbalances can cause hip pain instead of knee pain. By taking an individualized approach to your arthritis, we can work together to fix these dysfunctions. In the end, the goal is to both slow down, or even halt, the progression of the deterioration and relieve the joint pain. Should osteopathic manipulation not be sufficient to achieve this goal, our clinic also offers other osteoarthritis treatments such as prolotherapy.

Arthritis can have a significant negative impact on your quality of life. However, with the right treatment, support, knowledge, and approach, you can get back to living a fulfilling, pain-free life. See a musculoskeletal specialist to discuss your options for arthritis treatment. 

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