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What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is based on in human physiology, anatomy, embryology and other biomedical sciences. It is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by assisting the body’s natural ability to self heal. Osteopaths use techniques such as joint manipulation, stretching and massage in order to:

  • Relieve muscle tension
  • Increase mobility of the joints
  • Enhance blood supply to tissues

In Osteopathy, the human being is seen as a whole where all parts affect each other.  If a part of the body has impaired function, eg a joint, the rest of the body must adapt and compensate for this, which can cause overload, inflammation and pain in other parts. For this reason the Osteopath will assess the function and mobility of the entire body before treating any specific areas of complaint and determine the best course of treatment for each patient on an individual basis.

Picture of Osteopathy treatment
Osteopathic Treatment
When appropriate osteopathic treatment can complement and even replace drugs or surgery. In this way it contributes significantly to standard health care.

What to expect from an Osteopathic treatment?

The aim of Osteopathy is to improve and support all aspects of health and healthy development. Osteopathic treatment may be preventive, or curative and focuses more on the desired result of relieving pain than on the cause of it. Osteopaths analyse and evaluate the structural and functional integrity of the body using critical reasoning of osteopathic principles to inform individual diagnosis and treatment of the patient.

Using Osteopathic Manual Treatment (OMT), the osteopathic physician (DO) focuses on the whole body, including the spine and nervous system as well as the soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments and tendons and may use a variety of different hands-on methods, including:

  • Spinal manipulation
  • Soft tissue massage techniques
  • Articulation – gentle rhythmic joint movements
  • Stretching muscles and joint capsules
  • Muscle energy techniques – encouraging muscles to work against resistance

Osteopaths use manual contact to identify and evaluate movement in all structural and functional aspects of the patient, first identifying and then addressing alterations of function and movement that impede health.

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What are the main principles of Osteopathy?

In 1874, Andrew Taylor Still, MD, (1828-1917) discovered that in order for the body to be healthy, all of the tissues and cells of the body must function together in harmonious motion. He named his innovative approach to restoring health “osteopathy.” Understanding that the human body is composed of many parts he determined that the way in which these parts are intimately related is what determines the proper function of the body as a whole. 

In the late 1800s none of today’s miracle drugs, such as antibiotics, were available. Out of necessity, Dr. Still looked first to nature’s own ability to heal and found a way to access this healing ability in the body. Still saw this self-correcting potential as a cornerstone of his osteopathic philosophy.

The aim of osteopathy is to improve and support all aspects of health. Osteopaths analyse and evaluate the structural and functional integrity of the body using critical reasoning of osteopathic principles to inform individual diagnosis and treatment of the patient.

Picture of client seated in osteopathy treatment
Osteopathic Evaluation

These principles are:

  • The human being is a dynamic functional unit, whose state of health is influenced by the body, mind and spirit; if one part is changed in the system, the balance of the whole pattern will be affected;
  • The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms and is naturally self healing; the human being always tries to regain its own dynamic balance and establish homeostasis; and
  • Structure and function are interrelated at all levels of the human being.
  • Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
“To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.” A.T. Still, founder of Osteopathy.