Osteopathy - a history and explanation
Osteopathy is often referred to as manual or manipulative medicine (put simply this means treating a patient with your hands). It is a concept based around structure and functions of the body, and was developed in the late 1800s by Dr Andrew Taylor Still a physician and surgeon (as well as author, inventor and state legislator).
Osteopathy deals largely with the musculo-skeletal system (which encompasses the bones, muscles, joints, nerves, ligaments, tendons, fascia, blood vessels and lymphatics), and links this to the clients general state of health, mobility and pain. Osteopaths look at the whole body when treating a patient, seeing it as a whole, a holistic unit. Practitioners use a range of techniques in order to mobilize the joints, realign bones and release muscular tension, imbalance and strain.
No two osteopaths work in the same way, and the kind of treatment you are likely to receive will depend greatly on who you visit, some osteopaths will be very physical, for example, others, however, may work more with simple manipulative techniques. Osteopaths, as well as seeking to cure ailments, will also, following their treatment, offer advice about useful exercises and lifestyle changes to help prevent future problems.
Within osteopathy there are two different forms including: Structural Osteopathy (which deals with pressure points, soft tissue techniques and joint manipulation) and Cranial Osteopathy (a subtle form of osteopathy focuses strongly on releasing stress and tension in the body).
Who benefits from osteopathy? Well pretty much anyone with any pain or stiffness will benefit, which is probably most of us! Most practitioners will site neck and back pain as the most common reason for clients to visit the osteopaths, but other conditions include headaches, mobility issues and sports injuries.Â
Initially patients will be required to undertake a consultation whereby the practitioner will take a very thorough case history, asking about the condition and symptoms related to it, you will also be asked about your medical history, what medication you are currently on (if any), as well as numerous other general health related questions. The initial consultation normally takes about an hour, a follow up consultation normally takes 30-40 minutes depending on the problem. After this the patient will undergo an osteopathic examination which involves taking the blood pressure, as well as various other clinical tests, such as testing reflexes, muscle testing and postural assessments.
Osteopathic treatments are very much tailored to each individual, and, depending on the particular issue, can include massage, stretching, repetitive movement, mobilization and manipulation. As explained at the beginning of the article osteopathy is a holistic therapy, and looks at the body as a whole. If a patient had an issue with their knee, for example, the practitioner would also look at the hips, pelvis and ankles, to see how the body is functioning as a whole. Â
The first ever school of osteopathy was developed back in 1917 in the UK, and since then, especially over the last two decades osteopathy has become an ever more popular industry, with more and more clients seeking osteopathic treatments, and more and more people are interested in training to become osteopaths (which takes approximately 3-5 years depending on the course).