Osteopathy is a hands-on manual therapy that uses a wide range of Osteopathic techniques to increase the mobility and function of tissues throughout the body. The aim of these techniques is to enhance the blood and nerve supply to the tissues, which promote the body’s own healing mechanisms. Some of my skills include:
- Joint manipulation and articulation – easing joint restriction, relieving pain, promoting nerve function between the site of the symptoms and segments of the spine, allowing better movement away from the site of the pain.
- Visceral techniques – applying gentle techniques on the internal organs to assist digestive and circulatory problems or breathing difficulties.
- Soft-tissue massage and stretching – improving range of motion and muscle flexibility.
Osteopathy is a 100% natural hands on method to help people overcome pain and build health
In this blog I am going to talk about Osteopathic manipulation, what it involves, what happens, who would benefit from it and my own personal account of using it and how for so long, I was not a massive admirer of using them.
What is Osteopathy?
It is a primary health care system that is complementary to other health and medical practices. An Osteopath can diagnose musculoskeletal conditions by taking a case history, performing an exam and using special tests where necessary. This is with a view to discovering the causes of the problem rather than just the symptoms.
To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.”
—A.T. Still Founder of Osteopathy
Osteopathy focuses on improving function of the musculoskeletal system, thereby allowing the body to heal naturally. Osteopathy can provide symptom relief for simple mechanical problems and contribute to the management of a range of long-term complaints. Osteopathy is suitable for a variety of people from all walks of life including children, mothers to be and the elderly. Osteopath’s use a patient-centred and holistic approach to help restore normal tissue health and function.
The American Chiropractic Association defines manipulation as “a manual procedure that involves a directed thrust to move a joint past the physiological Range of movement, without exceeding the anatomical limit.”
This means that an Osteopath (or chiropractor) can manipulate a joint beyond what the patient can do themselves but without causing injury by going beyond what is possible (anatomically). We screen the body first to make sure it is ok for us to perform these techniques too!
My Personal Experience
When I was studying Osteopathy, I was a lot more interested in the more subtle and indirect methods of treatment, practising the methods of Harmonics, Visceral Osteopathy and Massage as they to me were much more therapeutic, relaxing and beneficial for patients in pain.
What I learned very quickly in private Osteopathy practice was that the results I was getting with patients by using these manipulation techniques were fantastic. Even to the point patients were getting instantaneous relief from pain and patients would come back and say “I can now look over my shoulder when driving my car” or “It does not hurt now when I bend my back”!
One of the best things about Osteopathy is it’s a drug-free and surgery-free path to healing naturally.
People have reported Osteopathic benefits help to improve:
- Back Pain and Sciatica
- Referred Pain
- Neck Pain
- Whiplash and Tension pains
- Frozen shoulder
- Tennis and golfers elbow
- Easing of Rheumatic & Arthritic conditions
- Stress & fatigue
- Sports injuries
What Osteopaths Believe
It is a drug free, natural and holistic manual hands on approach to helping people who experience pain or who want to improve their health. Osteopath’s and Naturopaths believe that the body has the amazing, innate ability to heal itself and it is the Osteopaths job to help create an environment to facilitate this.
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Why Get Osteopathic Manipulation?
Many things can lead to dysfunction of the spine or any of the joints in the body. Some of the more common causes I’ve found are:
- Poor Posture
- Some form of trauma
- Referred Pain
- Movement Blockages
- Poor flexibility
- Poor diets
- Muscular Tension
- Trapped nerves
What are the benefits of Osteopathic Manipulation?
Manipulation as used by an Osteopath can be used to:
- Reduce muscle tension – This mean the soft tissues such as the muscles, joint capsule and ligaments have better flexibility
- Increase Flexibility – This means that joints have much better flexibility in both what the patient can do and what the Osteopath can do with the patient relaxed.
- Relaxation – I experience this all the time with my patients. The patient has a momentary “Ahhh” moment where they relax and the muscles around the area relax also.
- Pain Reduction – This is because manipulation both has mechanical and neurological effects. Now without going into crazy detail this means that manipulation can stimulate certain receptors in the joint called “joint mechanoreceptors” that when stimulated can inhibit small nerve fibres that can decrease pain perception. 
- Reduce soft tissue swelling, inflammation, or restriction.
 Dutton M. Manual therapy of the spine: an integrated approach. New York: McGraw Hill; 2002. p. 20.