What does Osteopathy address? Here are 4 key areas.

Osteopaths see the body as a whole system and osteopathic treatment is known as a holistic therapy as it uses a number of different methods to treat you as an individual and whole person. In this way osteopathic treatment aims to restore the balance between the different mechanisms and systems in your body.

Symptoms That Can Be Treated With Osteopathy Overview

Your GP may suggest that you see an osteopath if you suffer from chronic back pain or have a working environment that encourages bad posture (which could result in pain in the future). Some employers also encourage (or insist on) preventative osteopathic treatment for drivers or people that work at desks for long hours.

Due to the holistic and flexible nature of osteopathy, it can be used to treat a wide range of symptoms including joint pain, muscular pain, arthritis, problems caused by pregnancy or repetitive strain etc. Different osteopaths will include different methods in their treatments so different osteopathy clinics may be more suitable for your particular symptom.

Osteopathic Treatment Methods

Osteopaths use a mixture of massage, joint movement, touch and stretching in order to treat your symptoms. The exact nature of the treatment will be highly personalised and no two people will have exactly the same osteopathic regime. Osteopaths will often ask you to carry out exercises at home between visits and will offer advice on how to alter your posture or change your habits in order to help you reduce your pain. This advice can also act as a preventative if you work in an environment that might encourage symptoms such as chronic back pain. Osteopathy as a preventative measure is often used by people who drive for a living or people who play a lot of sport that acts to wear out the joints or puts a lot of pressure on their back.

A Brief History of Osteopathy

Dr Andrew Taylor Still founded osteopathy in the USA around 1874 although it is thought that the concurrent establishment of bone-setting that was occurring in London around the same time was a large influence. These early “osteopaths” (although the name didn’t come until later) treated all sorts of different illnesses and used spiritualism as well as a number of other alternative treatment methods that were popular at the time (including magnetism). Osteopathy developed when a Scottish doctor met with Dr Still and exchanged the teaching of anatomy with the teaching of osteopathy. This enhanced the practice of osteopathy allowing practitioners to tailor their treatments more to the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Doctors practicing osteopathy moved to the UK and set up the British School of Osteopathy in 1915. This has led to the high importance of anatomic teaching that currently lies at the heart of modern osteopathic training. So, it is important to note that osteopathy was developed by medical doctors, illustrating how its methods were developed from scientific and physiological teaching.

Due to the holistic nature of osteopathic treatment, osteopathy can provide health benefits to most people. Here are 4 key areas an Osteopath can help you with:

1. Pain and Injury

Soft tissue pain could include pain in any area of your body (such as back, neck, shoulders) as well as muscular pain (such as pain in your ham strings or biceps). In addition, osteopathy can be used to treat joint pain (such as pain in the knees or hips). Joint pain treated by osteopathy can include pain caused by an underlying disease such as arthritis.

Osteopathy can also be used to treat injury such as whiplash, sprains and strains and to encourage healing after fractures. Treatment for any sports injuries or injuries caused to the back due to heavy lifting are also commonly treated by osteopaths. Car accidents and falls from horses act to jolt your body and may leave you with misaligned areas of your bone and soft tissue. You osteopath will be able to feel these areas and use gentle movements to realign your body structure. This will alleviate you pain and enhance your body’s function.

2. Relaxation and Posture

Many patients find the treatment methods used by osteopaths to be highly relaxing. So, if you find yourself overly stressed and in need of relaxation, you might consider visiting an osteopath as a form of stress relief. The holistic nature of osteopathy means that your osteopath will probably advice you on how to improve your posture. You may even find that it is poor posture that is the source of your pain (and this is especially common for people who visit an osteopath complaining of back or hip pain). In this way, osteopathy is able to treat problems caused by as bad posture as well as help you to manage your lifestyle in order to prevent further problems that you could otherwise develop due to poor posture.

3. Pregnancy and Baby

If you are pregnant you may find that your posture has changed (due to the extra weight that you are carrying) and this change in posture may cause you to develop pain (often in your back or lower joints). You might want to consider visiting an osteopath who may be able to advice you on your posture in a way that prevents you from developing pain, or who could reduce any pain that you have already developed. In addition, many mothers opt to have osteopathic treatment with their new born baby in order to treat any conditions/problems that may have arisen during birth. Mother and baby osteopathy can treat anything from conditions associated with periods of oxygen deprivation during birth to a simple requirement for relaxation and bonding after birth (which is a fairly traumatic experience for both mother and baby even if it goes well)!

4. Energy, Healing and Long Term Illnesses

Osteopathic treatment should be considered if you find that you have low energy levels, have trouble relaxing or problems sleeping. Many people find that they feel more alert and have higher energy levels whilst they are undertaking osteopathic treatment. This is due to the fact that osteopathy will enhance the efficiency of your whole body (by improving the blood flow, lymphatic system and nervous system). The increase in the efficiency of your lymphatic system will increase your healing speed and thus reduce the likelihood of succumbing to infection or illness. This coupled with the relaxing effect of osteopathy means that you might want to consider osteopathic treatment if you suffer with insomnia. The digestive system will also benefit from the restoration of balance between your body’s systems, so digestive disorders can also be treated by an osteopath.

Due to the beneficial effect on the body as a whole, patients will long term illnesses or injuries are often relieved by osteopathic treatment. If you are asthmatic, diabetic or suffer from any other chronic illness or disease you may find that osteopathic treatment can reduce the severity of your symptoms by enhancing your body’s own ability to heal.


This article originally appeared on healthcentre.org.uk and omwc.ca