After an osteopathic treatment, patients often ask us to explain to them exactly what it is because they have a hard time explaining it to people.
Traditional osteopathy is a form of healthcare that focuses on the musculoskeletal system and its relationship to overall health and well-being. It was founded by Andrew Taylor Still in the late 19th century as an alternative approach to conventional medicine. Traditional osteopathy is rooted in several key principles:
It’s important to note that there are two types of healthcare professionals who practice osteopathy: Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) and Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (D.O.M.P).
DOs are licensed physicians who have completed medical school and can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication like MDs (Doctors of Medicine). They receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative medicine. The use of the title ‘osteopath’ is reserved for those who have had MD training. And is forbidden for anyone else to use.
In Ontario, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners primarily focus on traditional osteopathic techniques and do not have the same medical training and privileges as DOs.
Also, beware…. As D.O.M.P. is not yet regulated, there are trainings that are popping up which require considerably less time.
Osteopathy requires extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology. It also requires time for the practitioner to develop subtle palpatory skills. As a result, the training is quite intense.
The osteopathic manual practitioners at Thrive were trained by the original school in Canada. It required us to have been a healthcare professional already and then a further 5 years of Osteopathy training.
While osteopathic treatment can be beneficial for many individuals, it is particularly well-suited for conditions related to the musculoskeletal system and those that may benefit from a whole-person approach. Here are some of the conditions and issues that osteopathy can treat or complement:
Musculoskeletal Conditions: Osteopathy is often used to treat musculoskeletal issues such as back pain, neck pain, joint pain, muscle tension, and sports injuries. Osteopathic manipulation techniques can help improve joint mobility and relieve muscle tension.
Headaches and Migraines: Osteopathic treatment can be effective in addressing tension-type headaches and migraines, especially when these conditions are related to muscle tension or alignment issues in the spine and neck.
Digestive Disorders: Osteopathic manipulative techniques can be used to help improve digestive function and alleviate symptoms of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. The focus is on enhancing the functioning of the abdominal organs.
Respiratory Conditions: Osteopathy may be used as a complementary approach to help individuals with respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Techniques can aid in improving chest mobility and breathing patterns.
Pregnancy-Related Issues: Osteopathic care can benefit pregnant individuals by addressing musculoskeletal discomfort, back pain, and issues related to pelvic alignment. It can also be used to help prepare the body for childbirth.
Pediatric Conditions: Osteopathy is sometimes used to treat infants and children with issues like colic, ear infections, and developmental problems. Osteopathic techniques are generally gentle and non-invasive for pediatric patients.
Stress and Anxiety: Osteopathic treatment can help reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and improving overall well-being. It may involve techniques aimed at releasing tension throughout the body.
Chronic Pain: Osteopathy can be a part of pain management strategies for individuals with chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. It may help reduce pain and improve function.
Postural Problems: Osteopathic manipulation can be beneficial for addressing postural issues that contribute to discomfort or pain. It aims to restore proper alignment and balance.
Recovery from Surgery or Injury: Osteopathy can be a useful part of the rehabilitation process after surgery or injury. It can aid in restoring mobility and function.
An osteopathy session typically involves a one-on-one consultation between the patient and the osteopathic practitioner. The session generally consists of several key components:
Patient History: The session typically begins with a thorough discussion of the patient’s medical history and current health concerns. This conversation helps the osteopathic practitioner understand the patient’s overall health, any previous injuries or medical conditions, and the specific issues the patient wants to address.
Physical Examination: The osteopathic practitioner will perform a physical examination, which may include assessing the patient’s posture, mobility, and musculoskeletal function. They may also check for areas of tension, restricted movement, or discomfort.
Hands-On Assessment: One of the defining features of osteopathic care is hands-on assessment. The osteopathic practitioner will use their hands to palpate and evaluate various areas of the patient’s body, including the spine, joints, muscles, and soft tissues. This tactile examination helps identify areas of dysfunction, misalignment, or tension.
Diagnosis: Based on the patient’s history, physical examination, and hands-on assessment, the osteopathic practitioner will formulate a diagnosis or assessment of the patient’s condition. They may discuss their findings with the patient and explain how these findings relate to the patient’s symptoms.
Treatment Plan: If osteopathic treatment is deemed appropriate, the osteopathic practitioner will discuss and develop a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs. This plan may include specific osteopathic manipulative techniques and may also involve recommendations for lifestyle changes, exercises, or self-care practices.
Osteopathic Treatment: If hands-on treatment is part of the plan, the osteopath will use various osteopathic manipulative techniques to address the identified issues. These techniques may include stretching, gentle pressure, mobilization of joints, and muscle relaxation techniques. The specific techniques used will depend on the patient’s condition and the osteopathic practitioner’s approach.
Follow-Up and Evaluation: After the treatment session, the osteopathic practitioner may discuss the patient’s response to the treatment and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. They may also provide guidance on self-care practices that the patient can perform at home to support their recovery.
Education: Osteopathic practitioners often take the time to educate patients about their condition, the importance of musculoskeletal health, and preventive measures they can take to maintain or improve their overall well-being.
The duration of an osteopathy session can vary depending on the complexity of the patient’s condition and the treatment provided, but it typically lasts about an hour. Some patients may require multiple sessions over a period of time to achieve their treatment goals.
It’s essential to communicate openly with your osteopathic practitioner, ask questions, and share any concerns or preferences you have regarding the treatment approach. Osteopathic care is typically gentle and non-invasive, but the specific techniques used may vary based on the individual patient’s needs and the osteopathic practitioner’s training and expertise.
Osteopathy is often used as a complementary approach alongside other treatment modalities. It can work in conjunction with other treatments, such as physical therapy, medication, surgery, chiropractic care, and naturopathic medicine, to enhance overall outcomes.
Osteopathy also has a role in preventive healthcare. Regular osteopathic treatment may help individuals maintain musculoskeletal health, prevent injuries, and improve overall well-being.