What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a system of manual medicine, one that employs movement of the human body to help restore and maintain normal (or more normal) bodily function, so that the body is more able to ‘help heal itself’ from any stress/trauma/disease it may be exposed to, or develop.
Osteopathic treatment focuses on improving the structure and function of the musculoskeletal system. Osteopathy employs a hands-on, holistic approach to the entire body, whereby the cause of the pain is sought after and treated accordingly. Osteopaths are primary health care providers, which means that you don’t need a general practitioner’s referral to see an osteopath.
Osteopaths undergo a five-year full-time course which includes a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Biology degree (BAppSc(HB)) and a Master of Osteopathy degree (MOst).
What conditions do Osteopaths treat?
With a combination of experience, knowledge and compassion, a wide range of health concerns can be treated including:
- Joint & Muscle Pain
- Sports Injuries & Rehabilitation
- Falls, Trauma, Vehicle Accidents
- Scoliosis/Disc Injuries/Sciatica
- Overuse Related Injuries (RSI, Carpal Tunnel)
- Postural Related Pain
- Arthritic Pain
- Joint Mobility
- Pelvic Problems
- Digestive Problems/Breathing Difficulties
- Pregnancy & Recovery
- Babies & Children (Sleep Disorders, Reflux, Colic)
Techniques used include:
- Soft Tissue Massage
- Spinal Manipulation
- Deep Trigger Point Inhibition
- Gentle Joint Mobilisation/Manipulation
- Muscle Energy Technique
- Counter-Strain Technique
- Functional Technique
- Lymphatic Drainage
- Visceral Technique
- Exercises for Rehabilitation
- Muscle Contraction and Stretching
Osteopathy was developed over 100 years ago by a Union Doctor in the American Civil War called Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917). His medical practice included caring for both settlers and American Indians. He faced epidemics such as cholera, malaria, pneumonia, smallpox, diphtheria, and tuberculosis. After the War, spinal meningitis claimed three of his children and he began searching for a better system of medicine. Dr Still recognised the importance of the musculoskeletal system as a key element in health, and also recognised that the body has the ability to heal itself, and an Osteopath can be a facilitator in this process. He developed palpation and manipulation techniques to diagnose and treat various illnesses. Since that time osteopaths have continued to expand on these techniques and use them to promote the healing process.
Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still’s basic philosophy of osteopathy can be broken down into five principles:
- The body is a unit. Simply stated, you cannot have a problem in one area of the body without it affecting other musculoskeletal regions or other bodily systems.
- The healing power of nature. Our bodies have all the things necessary for recovery from disease and health maintenance. The role of the Osteopath is to enhance this inherent capacity for health.
- The somatic component of disease. Andrew Taylor Still believed that the musculoskeletal system was an integral part of total body health. For complete recovery from disease or injury, problems within the musculoskeletal system must be addressed.
- Structure and Function are interrelated. Osteopaths strongly believe in the relationship between body structure and its ability to function. If a body’s structure is balanced, then it can function to its full capacity.
"The rule of the artery is supreme". When blood and lymphatics flow freely, tissues can perform their physiologic functions without impedance. Adequate blood and lymphatic flow is a prerequisite for the health of an organ or region. Osteopathic treatment works to ensure continued blood and lymphatic supply in the healthy state and, when treating injury or disease, enhances fluid dynamics to the affected regions.