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Manual Osteopathy is a gentle, holistic, safe and effective form of hands-on therapy which features the interrelationship between structure and function of the human body. The primary focus is the musculoskeletal system (muscles, fascia, ligaments and joints), organs and the central nervous system. Manual Osteopaths do not concentrate only on the problem area but the root cause of pain. They believe in the body’s natural ability to heal itself and are trained to treat conditions based on anatomy, physiology, pathology and how they relate to the osteopathic principles. They will evaluate and return balance to the musculoskeletal, cranial, cardiovascular, visceral and neurological systems of the body.
Benefits of Osteopathy:
- Removes the underlying cause of pain
- Relieves chronic pain through non-invasive treatment
- Helps the body to adapt to hormonal and structural changes during pregnancy
- Encourages the body to heal itself
- Reduces pain and stiffness in joints
- Reduces muscle spasms
- Increases spinal and muscle flexibility
- Improves blood flow to the muscles and tissues
- Enhances immune system function
- Improves digestive tract
- Enhances athletic performance
- Reduces risk of injury
- Increases range of motion
- Increases energy
- Treats spinal problems resulting from poor posture or spinal disc injuries
- Reduces tension in the body
- Relieves tension headaches and migraine headaches
- Reduces visible scarring and adhesion on the skin
- Treats trauma from accidents, sports injuries and motor vehicle injuries
- Increases circulation and healthy heart rate
- Reduces blood pressure and associated diseases
History of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still founded the practice of osteopathic medicine in 1874. Dr. Still was an American physician and surgeon during the Civil War. He sought further understanding of the medical profession and through research and experience he decided there was a better way to treat patients than the conventional treatments, following the deaths of three of his children to spinal meningitis. Dr. Still believed that illness was related to problems associated with the musculoskeletal system and manipulation could treat the problems. In addition, Dr. Still advocated healthy living and abstinence from alcohol. His treatment regime forbade patients from taking any type of medication.
Dr. Still opened the American School of Osteopathy, the first osteopathic school at Kirksville, Missouri in 1892. Students at the school formed the organization now known as the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) in 1897. The organization implemented standards for osteopathic medicine education. The AOA was accredited by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1952 and received accreditation from the Council for Higher Education in 1967. Standards for curriculum and length of study were formed by the Associated Colleges of Osteopathy in 1898.
Today, people in Canada benefit from both European-trained osteopaths (non-physician manual practitioners) and practitioners trained in Canada. Both provide individual benefit of skills and knowledge of to develop a distinctly Canadian system of osteopathic care. Many of the training programs in Canada emphasize research delivering high standards of osteopathic education, training, and treatment benefiting practitioners and patients.
Philosophy of Osteopathic Treatment
The philosophy of osteopathic treatment is explained in a book written by Dr. Still called Philosophy of Osteopathy. This book from the end of the 1800s explains why techniques are applied and the benefits of osteopathic treatments. The philosophy has three fundamental theories.
- The musculoskeletal system is a element in maintaining good health
- The body has a natural ability of self heal and self regulate
- The parts of the body make up a unified whole
The musculoskeletal system makes up 2/3 of the body’s mass that includes bones, muscles, and cartilage and impacts the rest of the body and its condition. Preventative treatment method including fitness and good nutrition promotes healthy bodily functions that are able to combat diseases and heal injury rather than relying on medications alone. The last fundamental theory promotes whole body mobilization to fight diseases and heal injuries.
What to Expect:
An initial consultation will take place before any active treatment or management begins. During the consultation, the Manual Osteopath will discuss the patient’s health problems, listen and take notes. Next, they will do a physical examination. This includes a postural evaluation with regard to the centre line of gravity done looking at how you move and how you stand still. Range of motion tests will be performed to identify joint restrictions. Palpation is used to assess muscular, fascial and organ mobility and motility. Evaluation and treatment will occur at the same time as the practitioner is always assessing during the actual hands-on treatment. The Manual Osteopath will monitor the response of the body during treatment. One usually feels better after a treatment although it is possible to feel achy and/or sore after the treatment and up to 48 hours.
Please feel free to bring any and all test results, scans, X-rays, MRIs or diagnosis to the consultation or treatment. The patient should wear loose clothing that is non-restricting to simplify ease of movement during the session.
Manual Osteopathy is tailored to meet the requirements of the individual patient and techniques are selected to meet the patient’s needs. It relieves pain, improves mobility and to restore health and vitality. Treatment focuses on getting to the root of the problem, not just addressing and or suppressing the symptoms.
Osteopathy can provide treatment and relief for:
Manual Osteopath practitioners use Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) to treat patients with asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, sinus disorders, and migraines. OMT uses a range of techniques including palpation and manipulation of muscles, bones, and joints, as well as soft tissue stretching, mobilization of joints, and deep tactile pressure. Manual Osteopath practitioners use two main types of treatment techniques: direct and indirect. The first, direct techniques include massage, joint manipulation, joint articulation, and stretching. With indirect techniques, the Manual Osteopath works with patients to help them learn to self heal. This type of treatment is often used on children, the elderly, and for patients with chronic pain.
Soft Tissue Manipulation- The practitioner uses soft tissue manipulation in many different ways. In general, they use it to evaluate the condition of tissues and to help the body’s fluids (such as blood and lymphatic fluid) flow smoothly. Keeping fluids flowing smoothly reduces harmful fluid retention and makes the body’s immune system more effective. Fascia is tissue found in all parts of the body. It connects all of the body’s structures at both superficial and deep levels. Practitioners evaluate the fascia to find areas of restriction, and then use soft tissue manipulation to make sure the length and tension of the fascia are properly balanced. Throughout the treatment, Manual Osteopaths keep checking on the state of the body’s tissues. If one technique isn’t working to correct a restriction, they use another approach instead. Above all, Manual Osteopaths try to restore health without over-treating.
Manual Osteopathic Articular Technique- Manual Osteopaths use this technique to reduce muscle spasms near a joint, ease neurological irritations around a joint, make joints more mobile and to reduce pain and discomfort. The articular technique involves gently moving 2 joint surfaces. Before doing this, Manual Osteopaths carefully prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area. They also move the patient into a position that will minimize, or eliminate the energy and force needed to perform the manoeuvre. Many patients find this technique less forceful than joint manipulations.
Cranial Osteopathy- This is a very gentle technique, as it requires the most experience to use effectively. To learn this technique, Manual Osteopaths undergo intensive training. Through this training, their hands become sensitive to the cranial mobility and develop great precision in utilizing cranial techniques. They use this gentle technique to assess and treat the mobility of the skull and its contents. They may also use it to assess and treat the spine, the sacrum, and other parts of the body. The goal of this technique is to adjust the body’s physiology by restoring balance to the circulation of the blood and other body fluids. Manual Osteopaths do this by treating the body’s inherent biorhythm. They are able to feel this rhythm in the patient’s head, spinal cord, and in the sacrum and the rest of the body. Manual Osteopaths use the biorhythm to assess the patient’s condition, and they may modify it during treatment.
Visceral Manipulation- Manual Osteopaths use visceral manipulation to treat organs and viscera of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, bladder and uterus. Patients may feel pain in one or more of these organs, or the viscera may be less pliable than it should be. Manual osteopaths gently move the structures themselves and the fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds them to restore full movement. Most patients treated with visceral manipulation feel only gentle pressure of the Manual Osteopath’s hand, but the corrections are powerful enough to improve the mobility of an organ, improve blood flow, and help the organ function more effectively.
Positional Release Technique- Also known as PRT, is a gentle, indirect technique of moving the body or body part away from the painful point or area of restriction and towards the position of greatest comfort or ease. The position of ease is where the point should no longer be tender. Position is held for 60-90 seconds. Often when the tissue is held in a position of ease, circulation improves (temporarily) in the surrounding tissues and muscle tone is decreased. It can positively affect change in soft tissues as well as joints. In this time, the patient can feel vibration, pulsation, heat, and pain will lessen or go away. There will be a sense of lengthening and relaxation in the tissues. The position of ease should decrease the pain by at least 70% once the release is felt.
The above (and many other) Manual Osteopathic techniques and approaches are used in a coordinated and rational fashion to slowly adjust the patient’s anatomy and physiology towards normal, so that the patient’s body can heal itself.