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  Osteopathy
  
  

Introduction What is 
  Osteopathy?


About Osteopathy

Why Choose An
   Osteopath?


How Does
   Osteopathy Work?


What Happens In
   Treatment?


How Does The Body
   Treat Itself?


What Does
   Osteopathy Treat?


Some common
  illnesses treated with 
  Osteopathy include:

How Long Does It
  Take To Get Better?


Your Questions
  Answered (FAQs)



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 Introduction What is Osteopathy?
© Leon Chaitow N.D., D.O., M.R.O.  
 
(Excerpted from Osteopathy: A Complete Health Care System )
If you have ever had an aching back, stiff neck, tennis elbow, 'gammy' knee or 
some such affliction of the body, then the chances are that you have sought the help
of, or have been advised by someone to go to, an osteopath for relief. If, however, 
you have, or have had, a more serious health problem such as asthma, migraine 
headaches, angina pains, digestive disturbances (to name but a few examples), 
then it has probably not occurred to you that the condition might have some of its 
origins in a dysfunction of some mechanical component of the body, the musculo-
skeletal system. You would, therefore, probably not have taken such a problem to 
an osteopath practitioner. Surprising as it may seem, many such 'illnesses' are often
the end result of biomechanical changes in the structure of the body which are 
amenable to osteopathic treatment. This theme will be elaborated on in later 
chapters, and some of the fascinating research that has been done in a wide range
of health problems will be detailed. At this stage, the idea of osteopathy offering 
help to conditions other than the more obvious aches and pains may seem a 
strange one. In order to understand the concept of osteopathy, and what its real 
potentials are, it is necessary to examine its roots and subsequent development.


Osteopathy is a system of health care which recognizes that   
the self-healing, self-regulating ability of the body is 
dependent upon a number of factors, including favourable 
environmental conditions (internal and external), adequate 
nutrition and normal structural integrity. It utilizes generally 
accepted methods of diagnosis, as well as certain specialised ones developed 
to facilitate accurate structural assessment. It places special emphasis upon the 
importance of body mechanics, and uses manipulative techniques to detect and 
correct, faulty structure and function.

In many people's minds, especially in the U.K., osteopathy is equated mainly with 
the treatment of spinal and other joint pains and problems. This limited care 
concept is largely an historical accident. As indicated above, the osteopathic 
profession sees itself as being relevant to a wide range of health problems, and 
not simply limited to the treatment of musculo-skeletal derangements. Since the 
turn of the century, when the first American-trained osteopaths established themselves
 in practice in the U.K., they have filled a gap that existed (and to a large extent still 
exists) in medical practice. Doctors tended to regard musculo-skeletal problems 
as relatively unimportant, and manipulation as, at best, an unknown quantity and, 
at worst, valueless

Osteopathic theory and practice are firmly in line with the concepts of Hippocrates. 
The patient is considered and treated as a whole. Founded as it was in this tradition,
osteopathy is patient orientated rather than disease orientated. It has utilized 
structural diagnosis and manipulative therapy as part of its philosophy and practice,
and therefore as part of total patient care, not confining it to painful conditions of the musculo-skeletal system alone.

In essence the original concept of osteopathy held that:

  1. Within the human body there exists a constant tendency towards health. 
    If this capacity is recognized, and if treatment takes its relevance into 
    account, then the prevention and normalization of disease processes is 
    enhanced.
  2. The structure of the body is reciprocally related to its function. By this it is 
    meant that any change in structure will alter some aspect of function and, 
    conversely, any alteration in function will result in structural changes.
  3. Health is the primary area to be studied in attempting to understand disease.
  4. The musculo-skeletal system, which incorporates the bones, ligaments, 
    muscles, fascia etc. forms a structure which, when disordered, may affect the
    function of other parts and systems of the body. This might be the result of 
    irritation or abnormal response of the nerve and/or blood supply to these 
    other organs or parts.
  5. The body is subject to mechanical disorder and is therefore capable of 
    mechanical correction.

About Osteopathy
Osteopathy (including Cranial Osteopathy) takes advantage of the body's natural 
tendency to strive toward a state of health and homeostasis. A much in demand 
specialty, the Osteopath is trained to palpate (feel) the body's "living anatomy" 
(i.e. flow of fluids, motion and texture of tissues, and structural makeup). They 
address health problems with a non-invasive system of medicine called, 
"Osteopathic Manual Medicine" in order to restore normal function in areas 
impaired by trauma, chronic illness, acute health problems, etc.

This Site offers an explanation of traditional Osteopathic medicine in the treatment 
of a myriad of health problems, cases of typical medical problems resolved through
 treatment, the history of this medical specialty, and insights in research in Cranial 
Osteopathy.

Osteopathy is the knowledge of the structure, relation and function of each part 
of the human body applied to the adjustment or correction of whatever interferes 
with the harmonious operation of the same.
George V. Webster, D.O. 1921

 

Why Choose An Osteopath?
Millions of patients today are turning to Osteopaths as their physicians of choice. 
They recognize that a DO, doctor of osteopathy, offers a variety of non invasive
 healing treatments not available from allopathic (conventional) doctors.

Long before it was fashionable, DOs advised their patients that the "best drugs" 
are contained in the body's immune system. So strongly do Osteopaths believe in 
the body's innate healing ability that many have devoted years of additional 
training, after medical school, to specialize in Osteopathic Manual Medicine (OMM).

Are You A Real Doctor?
DOs and MDs are both fully licensed physicians who are authorized to prescribe 
medication and perform surgery.

While attending their own medical schools, DOs are responsible for the same 
academic discipline as their MD colleagues and receive an additional 300 to 500 
hours in the study of the body's musculoskeletal system. Physicians who wish to 
pursue the field of Cranial Osteopathy must train an additional five years in practice 
to be certified in this area of expertise.

How Does Osteopathy Work?
Osteopaths hold to the common sense principle that a patient's history of illnesses 
and physical traumas are written into the body's structure. It is the Osteopath's highly
developed sense of touch that allows the physician to palpate (feel) the patient's "
living anatomy" (i.e. flow of fluids, motion of tissues, and structural make-up). 
In more clinical terms, a DO can even detect physical problems that fail to appear 
on an X-ray.

The Osteopath's job is to "set" the body up to heal itself. To restore this normal 
function, the Osteopath gently applies a precise amount of force to promote 
movement of the bodily fluids, eliminate dysfunction in the motion of the tissues, 
and release compressed bones and joints. In addition, the areas being treated 
require proper positioning to assist the body's ability to regain normal tissue 
function. This treatment modality is called Osteopathic Manual Medicine (OMM).

What Happens In Treatment?
After a thorough evaluation, the patient lies down on the examination table ready for 
treatment. DOs treat the dysfunction in the patient's body taking advantage of the 
body's natural tendency to strive toward a state of health and homeostasis.
Many patients frequently report feeling a deep sense of relaxation, tingling, and/or 
flow of fluids as their pain is relieved.
Although treatment varies, Osteopaths primarily concentrate on normalizing the 
body's "mechanism" or put in more clinical terms, The Five Components of the 
Primary Respiratory Mechanism .

Since the late 1800s, Osteopaths have been able to successfully diagnose and 
treat medical problems with their hands, much to the disbelief of their MD colleagues.


How Does The Body Treat Itself?

The rhythmic motion of the brain and spinal cord along with that of normal breathing
is transmitted to the rest of the body through the continuity of membranes (dura and 
fascia). Fascia is literally one piece of connective tissue that lines the body cavities,
 surrounds all the muscles, organs, bones, vessels, and nerves, somewhat like a 
large piece of shrinkwrap. The fascia is continuous with the membranes that 
surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges), thus allowing the different motions 
(and tension) of the body to be transmitted everywhere. This motion gently pulls 
and lets go on all the areas of the body in order to work strains and tissue restrictions
structurally free. This is enhanced when a person sleeps as the affects of gravity 
are reduced.


What Does Osteopathy Treat?
Treatment is aimed at the structural problems present, not the disease entity. By 
removing the obstructions to health, Osteopathic Physicians are able to treat virtually 
any illness or trauma. Their philosophy is the body is a unit whose parts integrally 
affect each other. Therefore, dysfunction in one area affects other areas as well. 
For example a young man suffering from pain due to a cervical disc problem wanted
 to know why his practitioner was spending time treating his legs when it was his 
neck that hurt. The doctor explained that due to a past traumas the man's legs was 
pulling on his neck, restricting its motion, and that unless he freed up the area, the 
pain would persist. Much to the patient's amazement, a great deal of his pain 
disappeared, before his neck was treated.

Some common illnesses treated with Osteopathy include:

Pediatric Problems Somatic Pain Systemic Problems
Colic Neck Problems Neurologic Syndromes
Spitting Up Back Problems Digestive Disorder
Sucking Difficulty Sciatica Genitourinary Problems
Delayed Development Headaches Chronic Infectious Disease
Birth Trauma Joint Pain Syndrome Head Trauma
Cerebral Palsy Traumatic Injury Post Concussion Syndrome
Learning Disorders Overuse Syndrome Seizures



Pregnancy Respiratory Illness Ear Nose Throat Problems
Back Pain Asthma Chronic Ear Infection
Groin Pain Allergies Recurrent Sore Throats
Digestive Upset Bronchitis Frequent Colds
Edema

How Long Does It Take To Get Better?
A chronic condition often takes years to develop. With this in mind, it stands to 
reason that it will require time to resolve: the ratio is often one month of treatment for 
every year of illness. (Although every body has its own time table, this is the average 
course of treatment). For a patient with an acute problem (flu, muscle strain, etc.), the
course of treatment is shorter because the condition is not as deep as a chronic 
illness. Much is also dependent on a patient's level of vitality (i.e. immune system). 
In other words, a patient in generally good health will respond more quickly to 
treatment than a patient with lower vitality (i.e. weakened immune system).

How Popular Is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy has changed the lives of such well-known figures as John D. Rockefeller, 
Henry Kissinger former presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower 
and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The growing demand for Osteopathic services 
among our population reflects an increasing desire by patients to resolve health 
problems without drugs or surgery. Osteopathic Medicine continues to gain national 
attention and remains the fastest growing health profession in the nation.

How Did Osteopathy Begin?
Civil War Surgeon Andrew Still, MD (1828 to 1917) founded Osteopathy on the 
principle that the best way to fight disease was by naturally stimulating the body's 
immune system. In the late 1800s, Dr. Still broke from traditional medicine when he 
decried the widespread practice of purging and leeching. For his efforts, Dr. Still 
was ostracized from his profession. But, undeterred, Dr. Still spent years developing
a healing science that could restore normal function and freedom of tissues through 
a practitioner's sensitive manual diagnosis and manipulation of tissues and fluid. 
He founded a school for osteopaths over the objections of his colleagues. Dr. Still 
maintains a loyal following of physicians throughout the world. His work has been 
advanced by several generations of Osteopaths. Their reward for practicing 
Osteopathy has been the recovery and well being of many of their patients.

 

Your Questions Answered (FAQs)

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and treatment, 
which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body. 
It is distinctive by the fact that it recognises that much of the pain and disability 
which we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure 
as well as damage caused to it by disease.

[Description by General Osteopathic Council, 28th October 1998]

What kinds of problems can osteopathy help with?
Whilst back pain is the most common problem seen, osteopathy can help with a 
wide varied of problems including changes to posture in pregnancy, babies with 
colic or sleeplessness, repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving 
or work strain, children with glue ear, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries among 
many others. Leaflets explaining many of the common treatments used are available
from the Osteopathic Information Service.

What can I expect when I visit an osteopath?
When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken and 
you will be given an examination. You will normally be asked to remove some of 
your clothing and to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then 
use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of 
weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.

The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray or blood tests. 
This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed for you.

How much do treatments cost?
Treatments are approximately ฃ20-ฃ30 for 30 – 40 minute treatment session. 
Often the first session is longer and may cost more.

How many treatments will I need?
Osteopathy is patient centred, which means treatment is geared to you as an 
individual. Your osteopath should be able to give you an indication after your first 
visit. For some acute pain one or two treatments may be all that is necessary. 
Chronic conditions may need ongoing maintenance. An average is 6 – 8 sessions.

Do I need a referral from my GP?
A formal referral from your GP is not necessary, the majority of osteopathic patients
self-refer.

How does osteopathy work?
Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide variety of treatment techniques. 
These may include soft tissue techniques, rhythmic passive joint mobilisation or the
high velocity thrust techniques designed to improve mobility and the range of 
movement of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used, particularly when 
treating children or elderly patients. This allows the body to return to efficient normal
function.

How can I be sure I am in safe hands when visiting an osteopath?
A Registered Osteopath has demonstrated to the General Osteopathic Council via 
a detailed application process that they are a safe and competent practitioner, that 
they have adequate malpractice insurance and have agreed to abide by a 
Code of Practice.

I have noticed many osteopaths have the letters DO and/or BSc (Ost) 
after their names what does this mean?
These are osteopathic qualifications. The DO stands for diploma in osteopathy 
the BSc is a degree in osteopathy. The length of training is the same for both, at 
least four years full-time training. The diploma course has been around the longest 
but recently some courses have been validated by universities allowing them to offer
their students degree passes.

Can I have osteopathic treatment on the NHS?
Most people consult an osteopath privately. Telephone local practices to find out 
about fees in your area. An increasing number of osteopaths work with GP practices
so that it may be possible for your doctor to refer you to an osteopath on the NHS.

Can I have osteopathy on my private medical insurance?
Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. 
Some companies will reimburse the total fee or pay a percentage of the costs. 
Contact the helpline of your insurance company who will explain the actual benefits 
and methods of claim for your individual policy.

What should I do if I am unhappy with my osteopathic treatment?
Often problems are caused by misunderstandings and can easily be resolved by 
discussing your concerns with the osteopath directly. If this does not resolve the 
problem or your concerns are of a more serious nature the GOsC has a 
Code of Practice which patients may refer to.

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