What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a gentle, hands-on practice that assesses the whole person and all of the systemic interrelationships of the body. Osteopathic Manual Therapy uses skilled palpation to assess the structural, fluid and energetic body through assessment of the bones, muscles, joints, organs and the viscera of the body.
The goal of manual osteopathic intervention is to remove unwanted structural dysfunction using a wide variety of techniques that mobilize and manipulate tissues in order to reduce pain, improve mobility and facilitate optimal functioning of the person as a whole.
Osteopathic manual therapy will base treatment on a detailed history intake, testing and skilled palpation to identify individual treatment plans
Understanding and treating the inter-relationships between all the systems of the body
Osteopathic manual therapists work collaboratively with many other healthcare providers to help improve patient outcomes and well-being.
History of osteopathy
Osteopathy was founded in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, a medical physician in the United States. Osteopathy expanded across the world through Europe and Australia, and finally in Canada in 1981.
Today, Osteopathy is a medical degree in the United States where Osteopaths practice as medical doctors and identified by the credentials D.O. Everywhere else is a manual practice.
In Alberta the term Osteopath and the credentials D.O are reserved for Osteopathic Physicians. Members of the Alberta Association of Osteopathic Manual Therapists (AAOMT) use the term Osteopathic Manual Therapist and D.O.M.P.
The principles of osteopathy
The philosophy of osteopathy is based on four foundational principles:
The body is made up of many different parts that work together, in balance, as one.
The natural flow of the body’s fluids – lymphatic, vascular and neurological – must be preserved and maintained.
The function of the body is dependent on the integrity of the structure and vice versa
The body has the inherent capacity to defend itself and repair.
Osteopathic Manual Practitioners recognize a person as an integrated whole and work to maintain, improve and restore the normal physiological function of interrelated body structures and systems, supporting the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Using various manual assessment and techniques and modalities, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners work to identify and ease restrictions, constrictions and pain; reduce swelling; improve tissue mobility; and promote proper function and healing in people of all ages.
What can osteopathy help with?
Acute and chronic injuries
Headache and migraines
Anxiety or nervous system regulation
Irregular menstrual cycles
TMJ (Jaw) pain
Peri and post-partum health
And so much more!
How do manual osteopaths work?
SOFT TISSUE MANIPULATION
Soft tissue manipulation can be used in many different ways. This method is used to evaluate the condition of tissues, ease restrictions, help the body’s fluids (blood, lymph, etc.) flow smoothly and restore function. Optimal neuro-vascular flow helps to reduce harmful fluid retention and allows the body’s immune system to work more effectively. Throughout the care, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners will continuously check on the state of the body’s tissues. The goal is to gently guide the tissue back to health without over-treating.
OSTEOPATHIC ARTICULAR TECHNIQUE
The osteopathic articular technique, involving gently moving two joint surfaces, is used to reduce muscle spasms, ease neurological irritations, assist in joint mobility and help reduce pain and discomfort. It is a less forceful technique than joint manipulation. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners will carefully prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area, positioning the patient so that there is minimal (if any) force needed to perform the maneuver.
As the gentlest osteopathic technique, Cranial Osteopathy is also one of the most significant. It is used to assess and treat the mobility of the skull and its contents. It may also be used to assess and treat the spine, sacrum and other parts of the body. The goal of this technique is to adjust the body’s physiology by restoring balance and optimal neuro-vascular flow surrounding the Central Nervous System and all of its autonomic centers. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners achieve this by treating the body’s inherent biorhythm. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners trained in this technique can feel this rhythm in the patient’s head, spinal cord, and in the sacrum and the rest of the body.
Visceral Manipulation is used to effectively treat organs and viscera of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, the bladder and the uterus. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners will gently move the structures themselves and the fascia that surrounds them to restore full movement. Applied with gentle pressure, visceral manipulation corrections can improve the mobility of an organ, improve neuro-vascular flow surrounding the organ and ultimately help maximize organ function.