What is Osteopathy?
In one sentence:
Osteopathy is a system of caring for the health of the whole person by ensuring that the physical structure is balanced and freely functioning.
As osteopaths, we aim to get the whole body in good alignment and moving well.
Many people think that osteopaths just work on peoples’ backs. Well, osteopaths do work on backs because the spine is very important, but they also work on everything else in the body. In working on the specific problem and integrating it into an overall good alignment, they will check the feet, head, organs, nerves, blood vessels etc.
Osteopaths aim to find the cause of the pain or problem and then work to improve the mobility and function of this causal area by resolving muscle spasms, easing joint restrictions and quietening irritated nerves.
It is a person’s own body that does its own healing and repairing. For example with a cut in the skin, it is the person’s own body that stops the blood flowing, forms the scab, draws the skin together, makes new skin under the scab, and finally gets rid of the scab. The person can support their body’s healing by keeping the cut clean, keeping the cut edges together with a plaster or stitch, improving their immune function by ensuring they are well rested and have good nutrition, while the osteopath supports their body’s healing by ensuring their circulation and lymphatics are able to flow freely to the damaged area through good alignment of the body’s structure.
When the body is hurt, the body pays attention to the injured area and creates tensions to protect that area. These protective tensions, however, often maintain even after the original injury has healed which results in slight restrictions of movement. It is important for the person’s long-term health that full movement and good alignment are restored by an osteopath.
What osteopaths do is to restore movement to the body, which allows the nerve and blood supply to be fully functioning so that the body can heal itself.
There are many different osteopathic techniques that osteopaths may use – from soft tissue massage, to ‘clicks’ (high velocity- low amplitude thrusts), articulation of the joints, moving positioning techniques, pushing techniques, to the more subtle techniques often called fascial, functional and cranial techniques (these latter aim to re-establish good alignment and function of the very small, fine movements in the body. By helping the smaller movements in the body to move and function better, the larger movements then improve).
If the osteopath feels the need for further investigation they will refer the person for an X-ray or ultra sound, or refer them back to their own GP for blood tests etc., or to a specialist if deemed necessary.
What do osteopaths treat?
Osteopaths aim to get the whole body back into good alignment and functioning well, thus relieving their patients’ of pain or discomfort.
People of all ages come to see osteopaths for many reasons.