What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a primary health care profession, specialising in the manual treatment of joint and muscle problems. The osteopath provides hands-on treatment using manual techniques to release tight muscles, stretch ligaments and joint capsules, and mobilise joints. Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment which emphasises methods of recognising and alleviating structural and mechanical problems of the body.
Osteopathy for adults
Often it is the swelling of tissues of the body that causes pain. This can even cause pressure on the nerves. The osteopath reduces the inflammation of these tissues with a variety of treatment methods, ranging from massage of soft tissues to manipulation and movement of joints.
The osteopathic treatment helps the damaged tissues to heal by reducing muscle spasm and increase mobility of the joints.
In the UK over 5,000,000 patients are treated by osteopaths, a year. Pain control is an important part of treatment and osteopaths give guidance on simple self-help methods to use at home.
Treatment is aimed to reduce pain, discomfort and allow relief from your symptoms. There are times when it is wise for you to take medication as well as receiving osteopathic treatment. Osteopaths will work in close co-operation with your doctor. The skilled techniques of osteopathy can allow you a speedy return to work.
Palpation: The Osteopathic Skill
Palpation is central to osteopathic diagnosis. Palpation is the Osteopaths ability to feel and sense the state of the soft tissues under the osteopath’s fingers that enables him to decide where and how to treat. This palpatory skill is developed over many years. The palpatory assessment of the osteopath involves assessing the active and passive motion of the joints under examination. This ability to detect passive motion, provides the Osteopath with the capability of focussing his treatment on restricted areas. With experience Osteopaths learn to palpate not just superficially but also very deeply within the body. This sensory information is received through the Osteopath’s fingertips and palms.
It is this sensing of the quality of the tissues and their position and mobility, that allows the Osteopath to determine the tissues that need immediate attention
What to expect when you see an osteopath
Once the osteopath has taken the history he will proceed to examine you. You will need to remove some of your clothes. He will perform osteopathic examinations, assessing your posture.
The history and examinations enable the osteopath to arrive at an osteopathic evaluation and a suitable treatment plan. This treatment plan will be tailor-made to your specific personality and lifestyle.
The area of pain may not be the only area treated. The osteopath will also treat surrounding areas he feels are not functioning (working) well and play a role in causing your pain.
The aim of osteopathic evaluation enables the osteopath to treat the cause, not just the symptoms of your problem, thereby returning you to normal pain free daily functioning.
Osteopathy is safe and very successful in treating pregnant woman with back pain and sciatica, as it is gentle and drug free.
Patients of the Israel Center for Osteopathy Talk About Osteopathy (in Hebrew)
Training in Osteopathy
A British trained osteopath went through a very intense clinically based training. Qualifying with a degree in Osteopathy. The course is a minimum of four years of full time study (five days a week).
At the end of the course the osteopath has in-depth knowledge of the medical sciences including anatomy, physiology, orthopaedics, rheumatology, diagnostic imaging, neurology and pathology, biomechanics and postural analysis. At the end of the course a thesis is written.
The training involves over 4000 academic hours with a further thousand hours of tutored clinic hours, where the students are responsible for the clinical management of their patients whilst being over-seen by a qualified tutor.