What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is an alternative medicine that focuses on the physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones to positively affect the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems of the body. The philosophy of Osteopathy is to treat the person as a whole, and not just treat the symptoms. It places a great emphasis on the relationship between the structure, framework, and function of the body, and the teaching the appreciation of the body’s innate ability of healing itself.
Osteopathy uses various manual "hands-on" techniques to help improve blood circulation and correct any altered biomechanics, without the use of drugs. Techniques used include stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance, which is known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.
Health benefits of osteopathy
Osteopathy can offer relief and treatment for various conditions which include:
- back pain, neck pain, and sciatica
- foot, ankle, hip, and knee pain
- hand, shoulder, and elbow pain
- postural problems associated with pregnancy, sports related injuries, strain from work or driving, or digestive issues
- tennis and golfer's elbow
Why see an osteopath
When visiting an osteopath, it usually starts with the osteopath taking a full health history of the client as well as an examination. Generally, this requires the removal of some clothing and performing a simple series of movements.
The osteopath uses a highly developed sense of touch called palpation which helps in identifying the points of weakness or occurrence of excessive strain throughout the body. Osteopathic treatments are uniquely tailored to the individual needs of the client, and the techniques being used are selected according to the patient’s needs. For some acute pain, incorporation of one to two treatments may be necessary. However, chronic conditions may need to increase maintenance for six to eight sessions.
Osteopaths use a variety of techniques using their hands to perform such treatment which include:
- Massage and stretching techniques
- Articulation techniques – for mobilising passive joints
- Muscle energy techniques – for releasing contracted muscles by working against resistance
- Counterstrain techniques – for counter stretching the restricted joints and muscles while in a position of comfort to achieve release
- Functional techniques – for mobilising gentle joints
- Visceral techniques – for managing conditions that affect internal organs involving the gentle and rhythmical stretching of the visceral areas