Osteopathy

Osteopathy

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a complete holistic approach to medicine that incorporates a form of manipulation similar to chiropractic alongside conventional medical techniques. An osteopath is licensed to provide the same care as a medical provider in the United States. It's one of the most respected and widely used complementary practices in the Western world.

What is the history of osteopathy?

Osteopathy was developed by Dr. Andrew Still, and army doctor from Virginia, in 1892. After losing his entire immediate family to meningitis, Still developed osteopathic techniques to encourage the body’s self-healing abilities. He founded the American School of Osteopathy in 1892.

Today, while the original philosophies of Dr. Still are still followed, osteopathy incorporates many more conventional techniques along with the manipulative techniques. Some people in the United States use osteopaths as their primary health care providers.

What are the principles of osteopathy?

Osteopaths seek to approach the client from a holistic viewpoint by looking at the entire person, not simply their symptoms. This includes lifestyle, emotional stresses along with the physical symptoms.

One of the key differences between an Osteopath and a conventional, or “allopathic” doctor is the use of a method called “Osteopathic Manual Medicine.” This is a non-invasive way of restoring proper form and function to the body. Osteopaths believe that the musculoskeletal system must be properly aligned for each system to function correctly, and for the body to be healthy. They learn a series of skeletal adjustments that are used to restore flexibility and movement to the body, which in turn affects circulation, muscle strength and mobility.

What happens during a visit to an osteopath?

A visit to an osteopath is similar to a visit to an allopathic physician, with a few key differences. Both will take your medical history, ask about any medication you might be taking, and examine your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, blood pressure and heartbeat. However, an osteopathic doctor will perform a more in-depth physical examination by examining posture, joint function, flexibility and any stresses or strains by moving the client in different postures.

Once a diagnosis is determined, the osteopath will choose whether or not manipulative medicine is necessary. If so, the doctor will apply a number of techniques that range from gentle massage to a more forceful treatment to the joints. Many of the techniques involve putting the patient through a number of postures to increase flexibility and realign the body.

If manipulative medicine is not necessary, osteopaths are also licensed to prescribe medication and perform any procedures that allopathic physicians may perform.

What are the benefits of osteopathy?

Osteopathic medicine is particularly good for people who want a more holistic approach to their health care. It is also for those who suffer from skeletal issues such as back pain, headaches, joint pain, limited mobility and sports-related issues.

How can I find an Osteopath?

Osteopaths practice every specialty of medicine and can be found anywhere an allopathic doctor is found. They work both in private practice and in hospitals and clinics. To find one in your area, visit the American Academy of Osteopathy or the American Osteopathic Association.

 

Sources

Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. Time, Inc.

Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies by Anne Woodham and Dr. David Peters.

Alternative Healing: The Complete A-Z Guide to more than 150 Alternative Therapies by Mark Kastner, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., and Hugh Burroughs. Henry Holt and Company: 1996.