What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy was founded in 1874 by Dr Andrew Still, a doctor whose life was dedicated to better understanding anatomy and its impact on body functioning. Despite being a medical doctor and surgeon himself, his 3 young children tragically died of meningitis; consequently Dr Still began looking for safe, non invasive and drug free ways to enhance the bodies self healing mechanisms. He was devoted to understanding health in terms of anatomy and physiology and held the belief that body structure influenced body function. Dr Stills years of research led him to found a discipline that he titled Osteopathy.
"To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease." - Andrew Taylor Still MD, DO. Osteopathy Research and Practice
Manual Osteopathy is a very gentle non invasive, hands-on form of manual therapy that focuses on identifying areas of restriction and then uses specific techniques to restore motion to the area and related structures (including nerves, blood flow, and lymphatic flow) and by doing so stimulate the body’s self healing mechanisms to promote optimal health. Manual Osteopathy does not involve pharmaceutical medications or surgery but instead focuses on removing restrictions to physical structure to assist the bodies self regulation abilities functioning within set homeostatic principles.
For example, if a bone or joint is out of alignment, then it will affect local tissues surrounding the joint and can also impact the entire body. A fall on the sacrum may lead to restrictions in the cervical area and may present as headaches for example. A knee injury may subsequently affect body posture and result in compensation of the entire skeletal system possibly involving the shoulders and ankle structures in attempts to compensate. Another analogy, if a bone is out of alignment then the local blood flow into nearby cells will be obstructed, along with possible diminished removal of metabolic waste from surrounding tissues; if nerve pathways are impeded, the result could be associated numbness and tingling (think of carpal tunnel syndrome/ or constricted nerves related to brachial plexus) or pain. By restoring proper bone alignment and mobility, the restriction and its impact on surrounding tissues and fluids is eliminated.
Manual osteopathy is a gentle, safe and effective hands-on technique used to:
Philosophy of Manual Osteopathy
- enhance the vitality and health for people of all ages (children, adults, athletes and the elderly)
- address physical issues related to structure and function
- is scientifically proven to address chronic pain
- help prevent injury in the elderly
- enhance mechanical performance (improve range of motion)
- provide a central nervous system reset for a stress-filled life.
Dr Still, the founder of Osteopathy, maintained several osteopathic principles of which manual osteopathy therapy is based on:
“The rule of the artery must be absolute, universal and unobstructed, or disease will be the result.” A. T. Still MD, DO, Autobiography
- The body operates as one whole functioning unit - it is impossible to have injury or restrictions in function of one area without involving and affecting other areas. If one area is not functioning optimally, then other areas of the body will attempt to compensate to maintain the highest state of health possible at all times.
- Body structure influences the body’s functions – both are interrelated. If any structure is out of place, injured or otherwise not working properly, the body will not function at its best.
- The body has self regulating mechanisms which ensure it functions within set homeostatic range. The human body is comprised of distinct parts, the physical, emotional and spiritual - all levels interrelated in harmony.
- The body contains self defence mechanisms and the capacity for self healing; when restrictions to function are alleviated, the body can proceed with maintaining the highest state of optimal health possible at any given time.
- The body’s fluids must be allowed to flow without restriction in order to thrive.
- Thus unobstructed blood flow, circulation, lymphatic drainage and neurological impulses must be maintained. The arteries play a primary role, responsible for optimal circulation and sending nutrients, carrying white blood cells and immune modulators to fight infection, and transport needed oxygen to all local cells and tissues throughout the body. The veins and lymph facilitate removal of waste material from a cell. The nerves are involved in message relay from cell to cell and whole body communication.
Dr Still recognised the essential importance of the circulation of fluids to keep tissues healthy, reinforcing the doctrine that the body’s fluids must be allowed to flow without restriction. Thus blood flow and its circulation from head to toe, lymphatic movement and neurological motor and sensory impulses must be without restrictions. The vascular system is involved in sending nutrients and needed oxygen to local cells and tissues as well as removing waste material from a cell for its elimination from the body. The central nervous system and peripheral nerve pathways are involved in cell to cell and whole body communication through rapid electrical message relay and response.
- Dr Still held the work of the nervous system in high esteem, viewing it as the messaging system or essentially the ‘internet highway’ of the body and spoke of the importance of safeguarding this communication pathway from inhibition.
- Ligaments hold bones in position- regardless of whether the bones are set in perfect position for unhindered movement of fluids beneath.
- One cannot work on the soma - the body- without facilitating a degree of change to tissues from head to toe; similarly, dis-ease also manifests as influencing the physical body and its function in some degree or another.
Through utilizing a patient’s case history, physical assessment and orthopedic tests along with the use of palpation skills for detecting areas of diminished mobility; traditional osteopathy techniques focus on finding the underlying cause of the symptoms, whether near to or distant from the person’s area of complaint. The gentle, hands on treatment is focused on assisting the body to normalize any areas of dysfunction. Modern manual osteopathy may incorporate lifestyle modifications, exercise, stretching and supplements as part of treatment.
Osteopathy is used to address a variety of health issues. If you want to know if Osteopathy is the right treatment for you, Email us today. Vancouver Manual Osteopathy Therapy: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group.
Copyright and Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) ~ Medical Herbalist
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