What is osteopathy?
A natural holistic complementary therapy that lays its main emphasis on the structural integrity of the body. It is distinctive because it recognises much of the aches and pains we suffer stem from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease.
Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit the needs of the individual patient.
What about consultations and treatment?
Your first consultation normally lasts between half hour and an hour. A full case history is taken to understand what may have caused the symptoms, what happened to your body in the past and how the body is functioning generally. Then a postural and physical examination is given, normally asking to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify points of weakness, restrictions or excessive strain.
Osteopaths use their hands both to investigate the underlying causes of pain and to carry out treatment using varying techniques. These may include soft tissue massage, stretching of muscles and tendons, traction and articulation of joints and manipulative techniques (which patients may feel as a ¬Ďclick¬í) to improve joint mobility. Rhythmic joint movements and gentle releasing techniques are often used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients.
Cranial osteopathy also uses gentle techniques in which the osteopath¬ís highly trained sense of touch is used to identify and correct mechanical disturbances and limitations both in and around the joints of the skull and throughout the body. It can help cases of glue ear, migraine, dizziness and, for babies, the after effects of difficult deliveries. The osteopath can often relieve discomfort that might otherwise be attributed to colic or fretfulness.
Half suffer lower back pain
Most back pains result from mechanical disturbances of the spine ¬Ė postural strains, joint derangements and spinal injuries. Osteopathy, is a particularly successful approach to treatment.
Over half are women
Many are working mothers and this can give rise to problems ranging from the perennial headache to debilitating musculo-skeletal disorders. Many headaches originate from stiffness and tension in the neck, osteopathic treatment can often bring relief. Pregnancy puts a strain on the whole spine and osteopathic treatment can help the body adapt to the many changes it experiences.
A quarter are in their forties
Many people are losing fitness at this stage in their lives and are more prone to injury. Osteopaths consider the whole person, examining posture and the strength and flexibility of muscles, ligaments and tendons. Treatment is designed to alleviate current problems and to prevent recurrences.
Many are elderly
Painkillers are not the only solution for aches and pains associated with aging. For more permanent relief it is necessary to eliminate the underlining cause of pain, a job for which the osteopath is specifically trained. Osteopathy can also help to reduce pain and stiffness in the less acute stages of arthritis.
Many problems relate to work
Work, whether at a computer terminal or in heavy industry, can give rise to disorders of muscles, tendons and joints, particularly in the back, neck, hands and a arms. Osteopaths treat many conditions related to the workplace and can give remedial advice and preventative exercise.