How Osteopathy Works

That is the million dollar question and there probably isn’t a short answer but let’s start with a little history to discover how osteopathy works

Osteopathy’s Beginnings

*Osteopathy was founded in the late 1800s by physician and surgeon Andrew Taylor Still in Missouri. The son of a surgeon, Still soon discovered that in order to achieve the highest possible form of health, all parts of the body should work together harmoniously. His goal was to restore the body to optimum health with minimal surgery and medicine. He was influenced in part by the realisation that medical treatments of that time were largely ineffective and in some cases, harmful.

Over time he treated patients with a wide range of conditions, from dysentery to sciatica and arthritis, with varying results, but he gained a reputation as an effective practitioner. Patients from all over America flocked to Kirksville for treatment. Soon demand was so high, boarding houses were built and train routes were altered to cater for the amount of people seeking treatment.

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In 1892, Still took on the first wave of 22 osteopathic students at the American School of Osteopathy (now known as the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine). The first class of both men and women (symbolic of Still’s strong sense of liberalism) were taught over a period of two years. This included in-depth education in physiology and anatomy. He drew in full practice rights for his students, and upon graduation, awarded them the title of D.O (Doctors of Osteopathy).

British Osteopathy Rooted in Medicine

*The British Osteopathic Association (formed in 1903 as a British branch of the American Osteopathic Association) wanted a school based on American tradition where graduates practiced both osteopathy and what is known as ‘allopathic medicine’, meaning conventional medicine (Medicine, 2012). However, The British School of Osteopathy did not share the same views and went on to teach medicine and osteopathic practice.

In 1935, the BMA campaigned for a new parliamentary bill, which saw osteopathy being refused any official recognition. Osteopathy was considered to be outside of mainstream medical practice in Britain and was not a legally regulated profession until the introduction of the Osteopaths Act in 1993.  This led to the establishment of the General Osteopathic Council and the Register in 1998. Like other medical professions, osteopathy is now subject to statutory regulations and qualified practitioners need to register with GOsC in order to practice and use the title of ‘osteopath’. *(information taken from the Institute of Osteopathy website)

Osteopathy in the UK is rooted in medicine from our American forefathers. This medical training is still part of our osteopathic training today and this gives osteopaths a wide insight into how the body works and what happens when things go wrong.

Osteopathic Diagnosis

Osteopaths are trained to very high standards in anatomy and physiology as well as, amongst others, neurology and orthopaedics. So we understand how the body works and how all the systems are interconnected. We are like body mechanics. For instance we can look at your musculoskeletal system (body work) but we can also assess your lungs (air filter) and all the parts in between.

We use questioning, observation, palpation (gentle touch) and articulation (gentle movement) to assess the body to see which areas are moving freely.  We then note which areas are restricted or tense. Tension often indicates and area that is not functioning well.  Osteopaths are sometimes described as having ‘ seeing, thinking fingers’. It is our hands that help us to make a diagnosis.

We use this knowledge alongside your story to come to a diagnosis. We then use this to formulate a treatment plan just for you.

How Osteopathy Works

Once we have our diagnosis and we know how your body is feeling we can start the treatment.  Andrew Taylor-Still our founding father describes how the structure and the function of the body are interrelated. Let go back to our lungs and ribs as an example. When the rib cage is tight and restricted due to muscle tension this prevents it expanding. This tension could prevent the lungs from taking in enough air and therefore can cause someone slight shortness of breath.  In this instance the osteopath would gently work on the ribcage and spine articulating the joints and stretching and releasing the muscles that are attached in this area.

There are a whole range of osteopathic techniques ranging from joint manipulation to the most gentle cranial techniques.  At Osteopathy For All we don’t actually do any manipulation (joint cracking) but we do use a wide range of the gentler techniques to get the body released, relaxed and moving better. David Butler, an Australian Pain scientist and physio, says ‘Motion Is Lotion’.  Generally movement is what the body needs and restriction of movement is what is contributing to the problem. An osteopath’s highly developed sense of touch allows them to feel when the tissues are changing and are reaching their optimum health.

Cranial Osteopathy

childrens-cranial-osteopathyCranial osteopathy isn’t a different type of osteopathy but is a technique in some osteopath’s repertoire. Our osteopaths all use this very gentle form of osteopathic technique. It is suitable for all ages and most people find it very relaxing, grounding and centering. Find out more here…

Our Specialist Area of Interest

At Osteopathy For All we are trained especially to work with patients who are living with or suffering from chronic pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia. We combine the most gentle osteopathic techniques with a mindbody approach in line with the latest in pain neuroscience. This approach combines hands – on treatment with our SIRPA training.  This is a biopsychosocial approach to education, relaxation and reprogramming techniques to reduce the overwhelm of the pain centres within nervous system.  You can find out more about SIRPA here…

Our Role As Allied Health Professionals

We are recognised by the NHS in England as allied health professionals.  We are also primary care practitioners which means you don’t need to be referred to come to see us. This means we will look at your health as a whole and may advise you on exercise and lifestyle recommendations. As well as treatment we may advise you on breathing techniques or stretching. If necessary we may also recommend further testing from your GP.  When you visit the osteopath you get to tell your whole health story, you get safe, effective treatment and a management plan tailored especially for you. What more could you want?

Well, We Also Offer Classes!

We currently offer a Moving Towards Health , an Improve Your Mobility and a Wellbeing Class at The Wellbeing Space at Osteopathy For All.

You can find more detail about the classes here…

Currently we have an offer in place for a free class voucher when you book an appointment with Paul or Louise.