Do you enjoy the feeling of your muscles being active and your body pumping with energy? Osteopathy is often compared to a short, intensive and effective workout – and deservedly so.
But what exactly is osteopathy? Is it something complex? What medication does it involve?
Actually, osteopathy might be the most natural alternative method we have at our disposal. It involves massaging, stretching or moving one’s muscles, joints or spine. It does not rely on any drugs or heavy medicine and is conducted by specialists called osteopaths.
Osteopathy is a fully natural approach to improve your body’s overall health. Osteopaths take care of any injured body part you have, but they actually go well beyond that. Their aim is to maintain your body’s global balance and functioning. This is the reason osteopathy is labeled as a holistic treatment (focusing on the whole human organism instead of only parts of it).
An interesting fact on the origin of the word: in Ancient Greek “osteone” means structure and “pathos” means pain. A fitting name, as osteopathy is one of the best ways to treat structural pain present in your body.
How to decide if it is time for osteopathy?
As with any treatment, osteopathy has an effect when applied in specific situations. Osteopathic medicine can be of great help if you have any of the following conditions:
- Back pain
- Sports injuries (including the famous Golfer/Tennis elbow)
- High levels of stress
- Head and neck pain
- Disc problems
- Shoulder pain
- General joint pain
- Headache or migraine
- Arthritis or rheumatism
- Sinus pain
- Digestive problems
In such cases osteopathy is a breath of fresh air in comparison with standard medicine-based treatments. Instead of relying on drug usage and chemical substances, it provides you with a natural alternative supported by patients and practitioners alike. Besides, osteopathy – unlike lengthy standard treatments, shows its effect rather fast. If your symptoms are not chronic, you might feel a change and experience pain relief after only a few visits.
Osteopathy practice and notable osteopathic techniques
Similar to other alternative or standard medical practices, an osteopathy session starts with a background check on your medical history. The osteopath will look through your history and might ask you additional questions on your problem and symptoms. A true specialist will also examine you by taking diagnostic, neurological and orthopaedic tests to assess the situation better. A timelog of your workouts or exercising might also be demanded.
During the examination, you might be asked to move around or stand in your underwear, exercising active or passive body movements. Your osteopath might require of you to sign a consent form as a proof that you have given your approval to conduct such a treatment.
With such a definition, you might think that osteopathy is easy to do. However, there is a specific technique the osteopaths utilize when massaging, moving or stretching your muscles or joints. This technique is called osteopathic palpation and is a product of years of education and practice.
Osteopathic palpation is the fundamental of four osteopathy techniques that are widely distributed as a practice. During your sessions your specialist will probably employ one or more of these. The four most famous treatment techniques in osteopathy are:
Soft tissue manipulation
In this case the osteopath turns his or her attention to body tissues and the state they are in. A common focus is the fascia – the connective tissue that is spread throughout our whole body and links the body’s structures. By manipulating it, specialists make sure to relax existing tension and provide a proper balance in the whole body. Soft tissue manipulation also helps with the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid.
Cranial osteopathy requires the most mastery of all other techniques due to its delicate nature. It is also the most gentle way doctors of osteopathy conduct their treatment.
The focus of this technique lies on the skull and its contents. Osteopaths will employ cranial osteopathy to first assess and then improve skull mobility. However, they can also treat other delicate parts like your sacrum or your spine. The gentle approach aims to restore your blood circulation balance and delve into your body’s biorhythm.
(Osteopathic) articular technique
The articular technique is focused on the joints found throughout your body. It might be preceded by some soft tissue manipulation to prepare the area that will be worked on. In its essence, this technique will involve your osteopath moving two joint surfaces in a careful way to achieve the desired relieving result.
A more specific, yet fairly distributed technique, visceral manipulation is aimed at treatment of the inner part of your body – that means organs or viscera. Your osteopathist will carefully move the part in question and manipulate the fascia in order to improve the organ’s condition and movement. Organs susceptible to visceral manipulation include:
- Stomach or intestines
Keep in mind that if a certain technique doesn’t suit you or you are not comfortable with it, you can always ask of your osteopath to employ another one. As this is your health and true professionals are flexible in their approach to osteopathic treatment, there should be no problem with your custom wants and needs. Two certified professionals – Alexander Nicholas and Evan Nicholas, discuss in their work “Atlas of Osteopathic Techniques” that there is a great variety of applicable techniques to fit a patient’s preferences. Any certified doctor of osteopathy should be able to employ them without hesitation.
Osteopathy benefits and related side effects
As a natural treatment, osteopathy comes with side effects that are akin to the natural reception of our body. In other words, you might feel temporary fatigue or a slight headache after the session with your osteopath. Just like a workout you might also feel muscle pain or some soreness. The aftereffects are, however, only temporary. In most cases they won’t last more than a day or two.
More serious complications include damage to the spinal chord or even strokes. Seeking the services of a professional osteopath will eliminate the chance of any body damage happening.
Osteopathy has many benefits for your well-being. It drastically improves your body’s mobility and strengthens the immune system. It also ensures the effective functioning of various systems like the nervous, lymphatic or circulatory system.
In case of a condition having to do with body part pain (joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, headaches and more), osteopathy leads to a fast and long lasting pain relief. It also eliminates joint stiffness, reduces existing body tension and helps with any spinal problems you have due to poor posture. If you are having problems with high blood pressure, osteopathy will take care of that: it will both reduce blood pressure levels and optimize blood circulation in your body.
The bottom line is that osteopathy is not only one of the most natural ways to treat painful conditions – it is also a proven effective method, similar to a short, delightful workout. There is pleasure and comfort in knowing that your treatment is drug free and relies on the most genuine thing our human body can do (stretches and movement).
If you are sick of medication and worrying how to deal with an of the conditions covered by osteopathy’s area of expertise, hesitate no more. Schedule a quick session with an osteopath and see for yourself how osteopathy works…and why it is preferred by millions around the world.