Joints and bones can be used to diagnose and treat illness. This is a guiding principle of osteopathic medicine, a branch of medicine that has not received much focus over the years. Yet osteopathy has been around since the nineteenth century and is recognized in the United States and sixty-five other countries around the world, including Hong Kong.
Osteopathic medicine began with Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in 1874, who introduced its underlying concepts. Still viewed the body as a machine where all the parts interconnect.
A key concept is that any part that isn’t functioning correctly affects the entire system. Dr. Still’s views were hardly mainstream in his time, but he was convinced that treating illness lay in understanding this interconnectedness.
Osteopathic Medicine And The Medical Community
In the United States, osteopathic medical doctors receive their own unique training similar to that of physicians. They even take their own oath, similar to the Hippocratic Oath, which outlines the core principles of the osteopathic doctor:
- A human being is a single unit made up of mind, spirit, and body.
- The body can heal itself and maintain good health.
- The body’s parts, from organs to bones, muscle, and joints, are all interrelated. Function and structure are not separate things.
- Proper treatment depends on understanding these fundamentals.
Other countries have their own forms of osteopathic medicine. Some, including Canada and Australia, recognize both osteopathic doctors and non-physician osteopaths – individuals trained in manipulating the joints to promote healing without additional instruction in conventional medicine.
Osteopathy’s Approach To Healing
Because osteopathic medicine views the mind, body, and spirit as a holistic unit, treatment focuses on all three at the same time.
Modern medicine recognizes what osteopaths have believed for decades: that the mental disorders and physical disorders work in concert. A disorder in the body’s structure can lead to depression, for example. And vice versa. In fact, even your genes appear to be a factor. A holistic approach looks for these interconnections to help resolve the issue long term.
Osteopathic doctors use modern medical tools to diagnose and treat the body. They also use osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM, a series of techniques designed to improve movement, relieve or reduce pain, and help the body heal.
Osteopaths recognize the existence of an energy binding the mind and body, similar to the eastern concept of Qi or Chi. Osteopathic treatments can incorporate energy techniques as part of the healing process.
What To Expect When Visiting An Osteopathic Doctor
When you first meet an osteopathic medical practitioner, you’ll find the experience similar to your first visit to a physician. Your practitioner will ask about your medical history and your lifestyle. He or she will examine you to get a sense of your physical condition.
This exam may be more in-depth than what a typical physician will give because osteopathic medicine focuses on bones, joints, and the ligaments and tendons that attach to them. Your osteopathic doctor will assess your posture and balance, and will typically perform a thorough examination of your joints. If you suffer from a condition such as back pain, the doctor may order tests such as X-rays, blood tests, or other procedures found in conventional medicine.
When working with an osteopath or osteopathic doctor, it’s important to be as honest and informative as you can be. Osteopathic medicine depends on the information you supply – your osteopath knows it may be vital in reaching a proper diagnosis and treatment.