When someone does a physical activity to excess they strain the muscle that was overused. This can happen to a well-trained athlete who is striving to excel, or a retired person who overdoes it working in their garden. This scenario is also often seen in”weekend warrior” athletes who sit at desk all week, and then over-exert themselves with a physical activity such as playing softball or tennis all day. The resultant muscle strain (mild tear) creates inflammation and pain. This strain usually occurs near the end of the muscle where it attaches to a bone or blends into its tendon. This creates a condition known as acute tendinitis. This condition could also be created if the muscle is strained from trauma such as a fall. Keep reading, this really is about osteoarthritis.
The usual treatment for acute tendinitis is to rest the area, apply ice periodically for the first 24 hours and then to use moist heat. Rest prevents further muscle injury, the ice reduces the initial inflammation and swelling and the moist heat circulates blood through the area to speed the healing process. Now, if you added gentle massage and stretching to this treatment plan the muscle would probably heal totally back to normal.
However, this is not what the average person usually does! They may ice once or twice and rest a bit, but most often just take an over-the-counter pain medication and continue on with their normal activities. If the strain was minor, their body may be able to heal the muscle fibers normally. Unfortunately, this is not the usual result because the injured muscle is being used instead of rested. Because of the stress on the muscle, their body heals the injured muscle fibers by binding them together with fibrotic adhesions or scar tissue. This is done in an attempt to prevent further damage to the injured area. It is a normal protective response of their body.
Formation of scar tissue in an injured muscle causes it to become shorter and tighter than normal. This places more tension and stress on the muscle making it easier to strain during future physical activities. If the muscle is over-stressed or re-injured further, eventually enough scar tissue will form to shorten the muscle to the degree that it can pull the bone it is attached to out of normal alignment. The result is a joint misalignment which causes a chronic condition to develop. If a tendon receives most of the stress from the joint misalignment then chronic tendinitis develops. If the bursae around the joint receives excess pressure and stress because of the misalignment then a chronic bursitis develops. If a nerve is stretched or has excess pressure on it from abnormal swelling caused by the joint misalignment then a chronic neuritis condition will develop. This happens most often when the spinal vertebrae are pulled out of their normal alignment (subluxated). Now, last but not least, if the cartilage of a joint is receiving abnormally high pressure on it because of the joint misalignment then a chronic arthritis condition will develop.
A lot of people seem to believe that osteoarthritis is something that just happens naturally when they get “old”. The truth is, osteoarthritis is totally preventable and usually curable! Let me tell you a story to illustrate.
A man 80 years of age goes to see his doctor because his right knee is hurting. After the doctor takes X-rays and examines him, he informs the man that he has osteoarthritis in his right knee. The man then asks the doctor what causes osteoarthritis and he replies, “old age”. The man then says, “But doctor, my left knee is 80 years old too and it’s just fine” – an intelligent and logical response. The point is that age has nothing to do with whether you get osteoarthritis or not. An acquaintance of mine had a hip replaced at age 33. He had injured that same hip while playing football years earlier. This injury created muscular scar tissue that led to a hip misalignment, which then caused the cartilage in his hip socket to wear out by age 33.
Consider an automobile with the front wheels properly aligned and new tires designed to last 50,000 miles. Let’s say that the right wheel hits enough ruts and potholes to throw off its alignment to a slight degree. Now, what will happen? Right! That tire will begin to wear out too quickly because the misalignment places excessive stress on certain areas of the tire. The weight of the car is no longer evenly distributed over the entire width of the tire. After 25,000 miles the left tire will still be in very good condition while the right tire could be totally worn out. This is essentially how arthritis of the hip or knee develops.
Now, consider a woman who injures her right hip in an auto accident or from falls taken while learning to ice skate, or even from accumulated stress of sitting with one leg under the other for many years. Any of these things could injure the muscles of her hip area and cause the muscles to heal with fibrotic adhesions or scar tissue. This causes the muscles to become shorter than normal and to pull her pelvic or thigh bones out of their normal positions. This creates a misalignment of her hip joint. Now, just like the tire, the weight is not evenly distributed on the cartilage of that hip socket. This will cause her right hip socket cartilage to wear out faster than the left. She may occasionally notice a tightness in her right hip during certain activities, but will probably think nothing of it, or falsely assume that it is a natural part of getting old. By age 50 she will start having right hip pain which will progressively worsen as the joint continues to wear out. By age 60 or 65 an X-ray will show that the left hip is still in good shape while the right one is totally worn out. It’s ready for a hip replacement which could have easily been prevented.
Now, let’s go back to our tire example. What if you notice around 10,000 miles that the right front tire on your car is wearing out abnormally fast. You will take the car in and have the wheel realigned. This will stop the excessive wear and tear. The tire will now probably last for 40-45,000 miles instead of being totally worn out at 25,000 miles.
The hip joint is quite similar. What will happen if you notice around age 40 or 45 that your right hip feels tighter than the left and occasionally hurts a little. You could get your hip joint realigned with PMBT treatments, thereby stopping the excessive wear and tear. Your right hip socket cartilage will now probably last well over 100 years instead of being totally worn out by age 60 or 65.
I have studied the human body for over 30 years and believe that our hip cartilage was designed to last 150 or more years. In other words, it should last well over a lifetime.