What Is Osteopathy & 4 Common Myths About It

Wondering what an Osteopath is? You are not alone. Osteopathy is a form of manual healthcare. Practitioners are concerned with the relationship between the structures of the body—its muscles, ligaments, and joints—and the way the body moves. In simple terms, this means that the aim of treatment is to help you move better because if you move well, you feel better.

Osteopathy is a patient-centered discipline that is based on understanding the relationship between structure and function in order to enhance the body’s inherent ability to heal.

In the U.S., Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) is a professional doctoral degree taking four years of full-time training. DOs are fully licensed physicians who practice in all areas of medicine.

In Ontario and Canada, Osteopathy is unregulated. There is no government involvement at the provincial or national level with regard to education or professional registration, which means you will find big discrepancies in training. Some schools have a three-month online program while others provide four years of manual osteopathic education with a thousand hours of supervised clinical training.

In other countries, Osteopaths are regulated and there are increasing numbers of practitioners each year in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Switzerland etc. Courses usually consist of four or five years of full-time training (sometimes more).

The Osteopathic International Alliance has a country guide with details of registration and practice rights and the International Osteopathic Association has a list of all accredited osteopathic colleges.

Osteopathy involves skilled manual therapeutic techniques to assess and treat a patient. The treatment encourages the body to heal itself by removing restrictions, and it also helps the body adapt to structural and hormonal changes that inevitably occur with age and growth development.

Osteopathic Manual Practitioners remove restrictions in the body by applying gentle tissue adjustments, using techniques like gentle joint realignment, visceral mobilization (movement of the organs), cranial osteopathy (gentle movement of the skull bones and brain), myofascial release (restoring normal tension in the muscles and surrounding tissues), muscle energy (small isometric muscle contractions) and strain counterstrain (positioning joints for relaxation). These techniques also help prevent the recurrence of injury.

4 Myths About Osteopathy

1. Osteopathy is for back problems only

This is flat out wrong. Osteopathy has always treated more than just back pain, for as long as the profession has existed (since 1874).

Osteopathy is considered to be successful and more well-known when it comes to mechanical back pain, and in truth it does make up a large amount of what we treat. However, any Osteopath is capable of working on every region of the body, including the visceral system, the fasciae (connective tissue), and the skull.

2. Joints/vertebrae are out of place and need to be clicked back in

False. If your bones were out of place, you would really know about it because you would be heading to the ER. Despite what you may have been told before, potentially by other healthcare professionals, the spine does not go out of place and just cause “a bit” of discomfort. If a vertebrae in your spine is out of place there is something seriously wrong. An Osteopath would probably not be your first port of call in this case.So no, we won’t be clicking your back into alignment (and that’s technically not what a chiropractor does either), that’s not how it works, although we appreciate that might be what it feels like it needs!

3. If I have osteoporosis I can’t get treatment from an Osteo

False. If you have osteoporosis you are still absolutely ok to get treatment from an Osteo. Osteoporosis would rule out certain treatment methods and would influence our treatment plan, though. For example, manipulation of joints may not be recommended. However, there is no reason we can’t help you to achieve the results you want.

4. Osteopathy is a new form of treatment

False. Osteopathy is one of the earliest founded manual therapies. Osteopathy was founded in 1874. In comparison, chiropractic therapy was founded in 1895 and modern physiotherapy was established towards the end of the 19th century.

Céline Nonzerville

Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, Clinic Director
Pomegranate Healthcare

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