WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY?
Osteopathy is a skilled and gentle manual healthcare approach, which evaluates, diagnoses and treats a wide range of conditions. Osteopaths work to improve the structure and function of the whole body, using manual or hands on techniques, such as massage, stretching, gentle articulation and mobilisation of joints, and very gentle indirect functional techniques.
Osteopaths educate their patients to manage their own conditions; for example using exercise programs, and to improve lifestyle, wellness and quality of life.
Osteopathic treatment procedures are very gentle and are therefore appropriate for the whole family, from babies to the elderly.
Osteopathic principles are based on the assumption that the body functions as a whole and that the structure and function of the body are inter-related. For example, the anatomy of the muscles and joints will affect its functions, such as posture and gait; and vice versa. Another example is the affect of the function of the blood vessels and organs on the health of all of our body’s tissues. An osteopath will assess the whole body to find the causes of dysfunction or injury; and will use osteopathic hands on techniques to improve function and wellbeing. Treatment helps to relieve pain and dysfunction by addressing the body as a whole.
The basic principles of osteopathy come from the founder Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, an American medical doctor, who practiced in the late 19th Century. These core principles are:
The body is a single unit of function: mind, body and spirit.
This means that all the systems of the body function together as a unit.
Structure and function are interrelated.
Anatomy affects physiology and bio-mechanical functions; and all functions affect the anatomical structure Osteopathic manual treatment aims to improve the anatomical structure, allowing function to improve. Osteopaths will educate their patients to improve function, for example using exercise programs and postural awareness. In many cases, this will improve the anatomical structure and decrease pain and disability
The body has its own self healing mechanisms.
This means that it naturally wants to maintain a state of homeostasis and health; and that when there is dysfunction or disease the body is losing its ability to do that. Osteopathic treatment supports homeostasis and health; encouraging the body’s self healing and self organizing mechanisms.
Osteopaths should use the most current medical and scientific evidence in applying these osteopathic principles to the treatment of our patients.
Because Osteopaths assess function they often address conditions before they become overt disease states. Osteopaths also spend time with their patients, providing support, health education and advice on improving life style. Thus Osteopaths can play an important role in the prevention of disease, the promotion of health, and in the encouragement of the patients’ ability to determine and manage their own health.