Honors Program

Fine and Performing Arts Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Sean Fox, Alison Deadman

Thesis Professor Department

Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Scott Contreras-Koterbay


Is osteoarthritis a fate unconditionally vested in genetic makeup, or are joints aggravated into inflammation by the way they are treated? Humans are a complicated conglomeration of experiences, decisions, and inheritance. Osteoarthritis, likewise, has evaded simplicity in any explanation of its causation, so it necessitates a multi-dimensional perspective.

This research considers the relevance of Alexander Technique in filling a void in which treatment and management of osteoarthritis is not equally equipped to answer this multi-dimensional causation. Alexander Technique is classified as a movement therapy, but this does not quite encompass the mindset of it—that it is indeed largely a mindset about movement. More concisely, Alexander Technique emphasizes self-awareness about how a person uses his or her body to perform daily tasks. It is physical minimalism, and involves continual recognition of muscle tension along with the ability to let go of any tension that is burdensome and unnecessary. This technique has diminished pain and increased the ease of movement for those who have experienced it, even people with osteoarthritis.

To build the argument that osteoarthritis can be hindered through a heightened consideration of how joints are treated, the initial component of this research investigated the vast amount of information already gleaned about the pathogenesis of this disease. The fields of physiology, genetics, immunology, and clinical practice already have much to share, and this knowledge has been combined with studies about the benefits and goals of Alexander Technique to discover the common ground of osteoarthritis treatment. The experimental component assesses the association of Alexander Technique to the minimization of pain from osteoarthritis. An online survey asks osteoarthritis cohorts about the history of their disease, the effect it has had on their pain levels and activities of daily living, and about the efficacy of their management strategies. Because each participant will be asked if he or she has received Alexander Technique lessons, the survey can be used to analyze each respondent’s experience of osteoarthritis with respect to that.

It was found that participants who had received Alexander Technique lessons reported an average of one more pain-free day per week, and experienced diminished pain levels for daily physical activities such as walking. Management strategies also indicated the benefit of Alexander Technique; those who had taken lessons less frequently used pain and anti-inflammatory medications and were able to be more physically active than the unexposed group. No statistical significance was achieved from the data, largely owing to small sample size (Alexander Technique, n=12, no Alexander Technique, n=25). This study is a step in the direction of better osteoarthritis management, promoting prevention-minded awareness of joint use and providing preliminary fuel for more extensive research.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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