Osteopathy is a method of detecting, preventing and treating health complications by massaging, moving and stretching a person’s joints and muscles. This practice is based on the principle that the well being of a person depends on their ligaments, bones and muscles as well as connective tissue working seamlessly together. Osteopaths hold that their treatment enables the body to initiate healing on its own. These practitioners use a wide range of techniques but do not use surgery or drugs.
Osteopathic medicine began in the US in 1874. The word “osteopathy” was first used by Andrew Taylor Still, a surgeon and physician. Dr Still reasoned that the bone or osteon was the initial point from which he was to figure out the cause of pathological conditions. Still established the American School of Osteopathy, now known as A.T University of Health Sciences in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892. While the Missouri state allowed the school to award medical degree, he was still dissatisfied with the limitation of conventional medicine. As a result he chose the distinction of the DO degree.
Osteopathic medicine or treatment is aimed at improving physiological functioning and support homeostasis changed by bodily dysfunction. Somatic malfunction is defined as altered or impaired function of associated components of the somatic system. Acute body dysfunction is a short-term impairment of related parts of the somatic framework. In early stages this is characterized by vasodilatation, pain, tenderness and edema. It is diagnosed using history or palpatory assessment of restriction of motion and tenderness as well as change in tissue texture.
While there are many therapeutic techniques, methods utilized may be broadly classified as direct, active or passive. Direct technique is a method by which the restrictive barrier is involved and final activating force is applied to appropriate somatic dysfunction. The active method is a method in which a person performs an osteopathic assessment directed by the practitioner. On the other hand, the indirect approach uses restrictive barrier to disengage and move the dysfunctional body away from the restrictive barrier until there is equal tissue tension in one or all directions.
Studies have shown that osteopathy is highly effective for the treatment of persistent of lower back pain. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), osteopathic medicine is highly effective for treating back, shoulder, neck and lower limb complications pain. It also assists in recovery after knee or hip operations. Currently there is on-going research to find out whether this practice can be applied to deal with health complications that are not linked to muscles, joints and bones.
Other conditions treated using osteopathy include:
- Sports injuries
- Problems with pelvis and legs
- Problems caused by poor posture when driving, working or during pregnancy
Overtime the osteopathic profession has evolved into two branches, the full scope of medical practice and non-physician manual practice. The two branches are quite distinct in practice and function as separate professions. Non-physician osteopathy normally varies with jurisdiction. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand, non-physician practitioners are regulated by statue and are required to register with the relevant authorities. In the US, engaging in osteopathic medicine requires medical training and entitlement to the full scope of medical practice.