Osteopathy is a form of physical therapy established by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the late 1800s that aims to assist circulation, correct altered biomechanics and improve posture and movement, without the use of drugs. Best known for treating chronic back pain, neck pain, headaches and migraine, osteopathy can assist the majority of musculoskeletal conditions.
Osteopaths believe that the musculoskeletal system is vitally important to health and that balanced movement is essential to the body’s capacity to heal. When diagnosing a condition, rather than focusing on the site of pain, osteopaths place greater emphasis on identifying dysfunction at the root cause of the problem. Treatment aims to restore function by improving our ability to move, loosing tight muscle, mobilising restricted joints and assisting circulation (arterial blood supply, venous or lymphatic drainage).
Osteopaths use a variety of techniques including soft tissue massage, joint articulation and gentle techniques to restore joint alignment. Joint manipulation is also used and involves small but fast movements, often accompanied by a ‘cavitation’, an audible ‘pop’ or ‘click’ similar to when you click your knuckles. Because Osteopathy is defined more by its principles than by the modality of treatment, Osteopaths frequently integrate other forms of physical therapy into their sessions, including acupuncture and corrective exercise. Consultations often include advice regarding exercise, lifestyle, nutrition and dietary supplementation, making Osteopathy a truly holistic therapy.
Treatment rebalances all systems of the body and there is evidence that osteopathy can be useful for many chronic disorders such as asthma, digestive issues such as irritable bowel, inflammatory disorders like arthritis or chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
Whilst Osteopathy can be regarding as complimentary or alternative therapy, osteopaths believe in working as part of an integrated health system and often refer back to the G.P. or other allied health professionals as and when appropriate. Osteopaths typically go through a five-year university course, which includes a degree and masters qualification. Osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council in order to practice. Patients may be referred by their doctor, or may opt to see an osteopath independently.
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