You have most likely heard of an “itis” condition, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. However, what you probably haven’t heard of are “osis” conditions, which are actually much more common. Hopefully this will help shed some light onto why you should know the difference between the two. To start, let’s define what they are:
- “Itis”: Signifies an inflammatory process, with the cardinal signs of inflammation being present (pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function). This is usually the result of some type of trauma, and a biopsy of the tissue would show inflammatory mediators present.
- “Osis”: Signifies a degenerative process. This is usually caused by age or overuse, and a biopsy of the tissue would show degenerative changes with NO inflammatory mediators.
Now the tricky thing is that most “itis” conditions are actually “osis” conditions – creating a misnomer. “Osis” conditions are MUCH more common than an “itis” condition – meaning that the majority of tendinitis cases are actually tendinosis ones. This can be deceiving for someone trying to treat it on their own, since treatments between the two conditions differ. The goal for treating an “itis” is to decrease the inflammation (think ice, anti-inflammatories, etc.) whereas the goal for an “osis” is to stimulate collagen deposition and orientation (think instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization and rehab exercises).
So, when trying to treat a condition that falls into one of these categories, it’s important to first figure out whether you’re dealing with an “itis” or an “osis”. From there, you can tailor the treatment accordingly and maximize the healing.
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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS
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