The body is a single organism...
"Osteo" comes from the latin word for bone, and "pathy" for disease. Therefore its direct translation suggests osteopathy to be the treatment of bone diseases. However in its completeness, osteopathy is a systemic manual medicine which aims to treat the cause of various diseases.
Such conditions are treated through the use of manual therapy, combined with traditional medical knowledge. More specifically, it is based on manipulations and specific techniques which are used to assess, prevent and treat various ailments, including those of the musculoskeletal, visceral, autonomic nervous and cranio-sacral systems.
It is based on 4 fundamental principles:
The body is a unit, and the person represents a combination of body, mind and spirit.
The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance.
Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
Rational treatment is based on an understanding of these principles: body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
What is Osteopathy?
How does Osteopathic treatment work?
Osteopaths use a wide variety of techniques to treat create a unique treatment for each individual.
Soft Tissue Techniques
Consist of a rhythmic stretching, deep pressure and traction. Its purpose is to move tissue fluids and to relax hypertonic muscles and myofascial layers associated with somatic dysfunction.
HVLA (High-Velocity Low-Aplitude)
Joint manipulation is often referred to by Osteopaths as an High velocity, low amplitude or ‘HVLA’. This is a gentle, safe and effective technique designed to restore the normal movement to a joint (any joint in the body) that is stuck or not moving properly.
Inside the skull or cranium there is a covering over the brain, the dura, that continues down inside the spine to the tailbone or sacrum, protecting and supporting the central nervous system. This central nervous system controls the functioning of every organ, muscle and nerve in the body. Cranial Osteopathy is a systematic approach to patient diagnosis and treatment utilizing the body's inherent, third wave impulse, emanating from the central nervous system and the fluctuation of cerebrospinal fluid. This is called Cranial Rhythmic Impulse (CRI). This gentle, manual technique uses the CRI to treat the whole person, emphasizing the head and spinal regions.
These techniques are used to evaluate and treat the
dynamics of motion and suspension in relation to organs, membranes, fascia and ligaments. Visceral Osteopathy increases proprioceptive communication within the body.
During fascial unwinding, the therapist stimulates mechanoreceptors in the fascia by applying gentle touch and stretching. Touch and stretching induce relaxation and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. They also activate the central nervous system, which is involved in the modulation of muscle tone as well as movement. As a result, the central nervous system is aroused and thereby responds by encouraging muscles to find an easier, or more relaxed, position and by introducing the ideomotor action. Although the ideomotor action is generated via normal voluntary motor control systems, it is altered and experienced as an involuntary response.
- Minasny B. Understanding the Process of Fascial Unwinding (2009) Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2(3): 10–17.
Muscle Energy Techniques
What it evolved into from there is a powerful yet gentle series of techniques that can be utilized on any muscle of the body to restore normal range of motion and mechanical function.What a Muscle Energy technique does is normalize the stretch reflex to its proper place. It normalizes the output of the motor neuron so that the muscle can instinctively relax to a normal state. No amount of massage or heat or stretching can do this. Muscle Energy techniques are what we call “integrative” techniques. This means that after we spend most of the treatment correcting misaligned joints, compacted vertebra, and sheered viscera, Muscle Energy techniques are used to integrate these changes in the body and help them stay.