What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a system of assessment and treatment that focuses on restoring proper alignment, movement and function to the entire body. With a highly refined sense of touch (referred to as palpation), the Osteopathyc Manual Practitioner uses non-medecinal and non-surgical methods to identify alterations of position, mobility and vitality in the body. We then use a variety of gentle techniques such as myofascial release, positional release, strain-counterstrain, visceral release (organs), fluid techniques (lymphatic, vascular, csf), cranial sacral techniques, and more...to release the physical strains in the tissue, normalize body mechanics, and enhance the body's innate healing ability. It is a very safe and gentle hands-on therapy that addresses the structure (bones and joints), the myofascia (muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia), the cranial (membranes and fluids) and the viscera (organs) of the body. the ultimate goal is to re-establish structural and functional integrity to the body's components as well as re-establish the synchronous, harmonious relationships amongst your body's systems to allow the natural manifestation of health!
Osteopathy - Four Key Principles
Founded by an American medical doctor, Andrew Taylor Still, in the late 1800s, traditional Osteopathy is a philosophy of healthcare based on four key principles:
1) Your body is an integrated functional unit. Fascia, fibrous connective tissue, is the uniting substance.
2) Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated: therefore any abnormality of structure - position, mobility, vitality - may create dysfunction either locally or elsewhere in your body.
3) Your body has inherent auto-regulation, defence and healing mechanisms. Treatment facilitates these natural processes by removing obstacles to these functions.
4) The movement of body fluids (cerebrospinal fluid, blood, lymphatic) is essential for your health and the obstruction of to this will lead to stagnation and eventually disfunction and / or disease.
The Osteopathic Manual Therapist applies these principles, grounded in an extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, to restore structural freedom in the tissues, enhance fluid flow throughout the body, and create an optimal environment for healing.
What Does Osteopathic Treatment Involve?
The first visit to an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner will run along the same lines as an initial visit to a GP. A comprehensive medical history is taken and asked questions about lifestyle, diet and emotional status. We will want to hear about all symptoms, as well as details about any past accidents or traumas, even if they may seem unrelated to your current problem.
The patient may be asked to remove some outer clothing and to perform some simple movements. This is so the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner can observe how the patient is using their body, identify any obvious mobility impairment and evaluate posture. Neurologic, orthopaedic, and osteopathic tests help us to identify possible underlying pathologies and differentiate the basis of the patient's complaint.
Osteopathic Manual Practitioners are highly trained to manually locate points of restriction or excessive strain in the body. Using a finely tuned sense of touch (or palpation), we will assess the spine, joints, muscles, tendons, internal organs and the cranium. We may also request for blood tests, x-rays or other diagnostics to confirm findings, or review existing diagnostic results where available.
The initial consultation (which includes history taking, assessment and some treatment) can take around 45-50 minutes to complete (or longer), after which we will be able to offer and discuss a plan. All treatments are highly individualized and depend on the patients current condition, past history, and ability to adapt to change. Most simple problems often require only 3-4 treatments. Subsequent visits will involve a review of the previous treatment response, a new physical assessment and treatment. The duration of the subsequent visits are also approximately 45-50 minutes but may last longer.
If the patient requires further investigation by an additional specialist, an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner will suggest a referral to an appropriate practitioner. We often treat in conjunction with a GP, dentist, podiatrist, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and other health care professionals.