If you suffer from chronic pain or have recently endured an acute injury, osteopathy can be extremely helpful in your recovery. Osteopathy is non-invasive, its practitioners depending on the manipulation of joints and muscles to help the body heal itself. Your osteopath adapts your treatment to you and your specific condition, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery.
What Is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy involves the manipulation of muscles and bones to facilitate healing, using the philosophy that the body can and must heal itself. The practitioner of any form of treatment isn’t there to cure the condition but to guide the body to a healing state. This contrasts with more conventional views of medicine which believe the body is a machine that is constantly breaking down, requiring medical intervention to keep it functioning.
Fundamental to the body’s ability to heal is its capacity to circulate its various fluids, including lymph, blood, and digestive juices. The body’s musculature moves these fluids throughout the body, so manipulating muscle by manipulating bones and joints helps keep the body’s fluids circulating unimpeded.
Osteopathy: A Brief History
Osteopathy began in the United States in the nineteenth century with the work of Doctor Andrew Taylor Still. Still’s work laid the foundation for osteopathy, and since then the field has spread around the world. Many western countries now license osteopathic physicians, recognizing osteopathic manipulative medicine in the same way as more conventional medicine. In the US, osteopathic physicians are licensed like standard general practitioners (GPs). How osteopathic doctors are licensed depends on the country. Pain management is the most common condition osteopaths treat, from acute to chronic.
The field of osteopathy has over the past decades become divided into two streams recognized by most western nations. Osteopathic physicians receive their licenses through medical colleges. These physicians can prescribe medication and perform invasive procedures when needed. Osteopaths, on the other hand, are trained by independent associations in non-invasive techniques, focusing on muscle and bone manipulation and massage.
The terminology surrounding osteopathy has split also. We typically refer to the field licensed within the conventional medical community as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. When we speak of the field outside conventional medicine we refer to it as Osteopathy.
Osteopathy And Its Benefits
Osteopathy is suitable for all ages and all physical fitness levels. From children to seniors, from pregnant women to athletes, osteopathy can be of enormous benefit. A typical osteopathic focuses on joints and muscles. Depending on the patient, it can be extremely gentle or very forceful.
Because osteopathy considers the body as a whole, treatment doesn’t focus on merely treating symptoms. Pain is often just a symptom of an underlying condition. So an osteopath goes further to seek out that underlying cause. The cause may be a joint disorder. Ensuring the joint functions properly — and therefore free of pain — is the osteopath’s focus. Osteopathy is therefore effective in treating older or poorly-treated injuries.
If you suffer pain, osteopathy may be what you need. But osteopaths receive training in a wider range than just pain management. So ask your osteopath about his or her training to get a sense of what your practitioner can do for you.