Osteopathy, also known as osteopathic manual therapy, is a type of holistic health treatment that identifies and addresses a variety of health concerns and forms of pain.
Osteopathy addresses health issues using gentle, non-invasive manipulations and techniques as tools to restore the body’s natural mobility and alignment. Each osteopathic treatment supports the body to use its ability to self-heal and resolve health issues.
Osteopathic manual therapists use their knowledge of anatomy, physiology and bio-mechanics to identify the root issue(s) and select specific techniques best suited to support healing.
Primary Principles of Osteopathy
The body works as a whole.
Osteopathy seeks to treat and regain not only the symptomatic affected area but also to balance the whole body. For example, back pain may not originate from the back itself, but could be caused by a misalignment in another area of the body. This misalignment places strain on the back as the body tries to compensate, resulting in back pain.
The body is self-regulating and self-healing.
The body will naturally do what is needed to return to equilibrium (keep a constant temperature, pH level, and more). It also has the ability to repair itself under the right conditions. Osteopathy seeks to provide the body with the means to find this balance, so that the body can repair and return itself to its natural healthy state.
Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
Osteopathy holds that a defect in one area reflects in on another. This means that, for example, if a vertebra (the structure) in your back is out of alignment, it could pinch a nerve and cause digestive issues (the function). It also means that the opposite is true and that if an organ is not functioning properly, it can cause back pain.
Osteopathic Diagnosis - Finding the Cause of Symptoms
After talking with the patient about their health concerns and discussing their medical history, the osteopathic manual therapist will determine the best approach to treatment and/or other possible medical referrals if necessary.
Through specific palpation (touch), the osteopathic manual therapist assesses the body looking for mobility restrictions likely to impact the patient’s well-being. The therapist’s hands will search, find, and realign all of the structures with lesser mobility.
Osteopathy at Any Stage of Life
The osteopathic manual therapist can employ an array of techniques, ensuring to find the most suitable and comfortable one for each patient depending on their age, morphology, and treatment area.
Osteopathy is suitable for all stages of life and can be used to treat infants, children, adolescents, women during pregnancy and postpartum, adults, and the elderly.
Osteopathy can help with many physical disorders and ailments at neural, functional, and psychological levels. It can also help prevent issues through regular monitoring and maintenance.
Osteopathy can help with all of the body’s major systems:
The musculoskeletal system: sprains, tendonitis, back pain, neck pain, arthritis pain, scoliosis, pelvic pain, TMJ pain, etc.
The neurological system: sciatica, all types of neuralgia, etc.
The cardiovascular system: oedemas, venous congestion, heart palpitations, blood pressure issues, etc.
The digestive system: bloating, gas, gall bladder issues, colitis, constipation, indigestion, heartburn, etc.
The ENT and pulmonary systems: rhinitis, sinusitis, dizziness, headaches, migraines, bronchitis, asthma, etc.
The autonomic nervous system: depression, anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, etc.
Trauma recovery: fractures, sprains, falls, car accidents, etc.
Prevention and Osteopathy
Physical or emotional trauma, as well as old or undiagnosed issues can have painful consequences even years after injuries first occur.
The body has the ability to compensate, which means it will work around an issue to keep functioning. However, as time passes issues can accumulate and eventually the body can no longer compensate.
When this occurs, pain will often present itself even though no obvious trauma or illness has occurred.
One of the osteopathic manual therapist’s roles is to teach patients that this mechanism exists and that with the help of regular preventative treatments this can be addressed prior to it becoming a larger issue.