In osteopathic musculoskeletal medicine and arthritis treatment, we place a lot of emphasis on an idea known as “biotensegrity” or “tensegrity,” for short. Tensegrity is the concept that rigid structures can be indirectly connected by flexible structures by balancing tensions between the rigid structures. 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 as complex as the human body. The soft tissue of the body acts to balance the tension surrounding our bony skeleton in order to prevent too much wear on our joints.
Causes of Arthritis and The Breakdown in the Body’s Tensegrity
According to EMedicine Health, the causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include:
- injury (leading to degenerative arthritis),
- abnormal metabolism (such as gout and pseudogout),
- inheritance (such as in osteoarthritis),
- infections (such as in the arthritis of Lyme disease), and
- an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).
In arthritic and other degenerative conditions, there has been a breakdown in the body’s tensegrity. The bony damage that results is a side-effect of this breakdown, and 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 by addressing the body’s overall structure. In addition, we are trained to 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. By fixing these dysfunctions, we can slow down or even halt the progression of the deterioration that they are causing.
In the end, if you have arthritis it does have the potential to have a negative impact on your quality of life. However, with the right treatment, support, knowledge, and approach, you will be able to live a fulfilling, happy and successful life. It’s important to see a specialist for arthritis treatment if you encounter any new symptoms or if you have any trouble with the medicine you’re taking.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Hennenhoefer today so he can give the proper arthritis treatment that you need and deserve.