TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What is osteopathy?
- What does an osteopath do?
- What diseases does he/she treat?
- When to see an osteopath
What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is an alternative medicine based on a series of manual techniques based on the laws that govern life and living organisms. This specialty is oriented to restore and maintain the balance of the body to achieve its recovery and preserve its capacity for self-regulation.
It is a specialty similar to physiotherapy. However, physiotherapy uses natural agents (cold, heat, water, light and electricity) to treat pain, in addition to manual technique.
In osteopathy, the expert, called an osteopath, detects, treats and prevents health problems by stretching and massaging the patient’s muscles, joints and connective tissues. Non-invasive techniques and treatments are based on a holistic view of the human body where it is important that bones, muscles and ligaments work together.
Osteopaths are trained health professionals who are registered with the General Osteopathic Council. This means that osteopaths tend to have more practice than other therapists, such as naturopaths.
What does an osteopath do?
An osteopath uses physical manipulation to increase joint mobility, relieve muscle tension and improve blood supply to the tissues. The goal of treatment is to improve the overall health of all body systems by manipulating and strengthening the musculoskeletal structure.
Osteopaths also give advice on posture, on exercises to aid in early recovery and to prevent symptoms from recurring.
What diseases does osteopathy treat?
The use of osteopathy is recommended in a wide variety of disorders and organic alterations:
- Headache or migraine
- Joint pain
- Back pain
- Digestive problems (hernias, ulcers, constipation)
- Sports injuries
- Urinary incontinence
- Repeated urinary tract infection
- Dental malocclusion
- Respiratory problems
- Sleep disorders
What subspecialties are there within osteopathy?
There are different types of osteopathy, among which are the following:
- Structural osteopathy: this type of osteopathy is oriented to the restoration of dysfunctions in the muscles and skeleton and posture, putting the focus on the spine and trauma. It is based on the principle that function and structure have a direct relationship, so that if the structure is not balanced, the function will be affected.
- Visceral osteopathy: it is focused on promoting the functionality of the viscera and other vital organs (pancreas, stomach, reproductive system…), stimulating their physiological mobility.
- Cranial osteopathy: this type of osteopathy allows to favor the mobility of the cerebrospinal fluid, making corrections to restore the regular rhythm by touch.
When to go to the osteopath?
Generally, patients visit the osteopath if they suffer from:
- Back, neck or shoulder pain
- A sports injury
- Pain while driving or due to pregnancy
There is evidence that manual therapy techniques, such as those used by an osteopath, can be helpful for the problems listed above, especially low back pain.
Other people visit an osteopath to treat conditions such as migraine, painful menstruation, and depression, but there is little evidence that osteopathy is an effective treatment.
What are the alternatives to osteopathy?
Sometimes other causes of musculoskeletal symptoms need to be ruled out and in some cases you will be referred to other diagnostic tests, which may include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Blood tests
For some conditions, such as arthritis, medications may be required to reduce inflammation and, in severe cases, surgery may be required.
There are also situations where manual therapy techniques used in osteopathy are not suitable and may cause harm, due to the risk of damage to the spine or bones.
You may not be suitable for osteopathy if you suffer from:
- Bone fracture
- Blood clotting disorder