What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a manual (administered with the hands) method of treatment that is based on knowledge of anatomy, embryology, neurology, physiology and pathology. As such, osteopathy is based on three fundamental principles:
- The body is a biological whole.
- Form and function influence each other reciprocally.
- The body has a self-healing capacity.
Research and treatment both take a holistic approach to the body. For this purpose, the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints and muscles), the body system (internal organs, blood vessels and lymph system) and the cranio-sacral system (skull, sacrum, meninges and spinal cord membrane) are manually examined for restriction or loss of motion. With the premise of the body as a unit, all mentioned structures are inextricably linked and influence each other continuously.
The osteopath examines the quality of all of these systems and the mobility of each, seeking potential causes for your symptoms. During the six-year study of osteopathy, movement of body tissue is the main focus. Mobility does not only refer to the movement of the human body, but also of all the organs, cells, nerves, muscles and bones in relation to each other.
Loss of movement can be brought on, for example, by being in an accident, illness, surgery, stress or poor nutritional and/or lifestyle habits. By treating the detected movement restrictions and restoring balance between the various systems, an osteopath enables the body to regain its ability to regenerate itself.
What to expect of a consultation?
The osteopath begins with an extensive interview to get an idea of the history of the symptoms. He won’t only pose questions directly related to the condition, but also pay attention to the general medical history, lifestyle, family problems and use of medication. Then, a practical examination from head to toe will be conducted. The osteopath investigates all systems of movements with the use of his hands. Any blockages or restrictions of movement in the body will be located and mapped. He will then discuss with the patient any findings of the examination, how these are related to the complaint, proposed treatment and how such symptoms can be prevented in the future.
Did you know that reduced mobility many times cannot be explained by regular medical examination? Suppose you have a sore shoulder or hip that won’t move, it could very well be that an x-ray, ultrasound or MRI show nothing special to report. In cases where there are symptoms without apparent medical cause, the osteopath is often able to detect the cause through his training in the diagnosis and treatment of the mobility of all tissues.
What is involved in osteopathic treatment?
During a session, the treatment can range from applying subtle to strong pressure, mostly in places other than where the problems are felt. The causes of the symptoms are often (but not always) located in another part of the body than where the symptoms express themselves. The osteopath helps the body to repair itself by removing any blockages in motion that stand in the way of healing. Osteopaths do not make use of any equipment or medicine. After a session, the body will need time to respond to treatment and tap into its capacity for self-healing. The applied techniques during osteopathic treatment are entirely safe.
The period of time between treatments is on average 3 weeks, and can also last between 1 and 6 weeks.
Multiple treatments are sometimes required in order to achieve an optimal balance in the body. If the symptoms do not improve after 4 sessions, then as a rule the treatment will be adjusted or discontinued. An osteopath does not replace the family doctor or a specialist, but instead has a complementary role, working alongside them. If necessary an osteopath will refer you to another doctor or specialist.