Osteopathy is a system of medicine that also involves assessment, diagnosis and management of numerous medical conditions. We know that the structure and functions of the human body are interrelated. So, for a healthy person, the musculoskeletal, neurological, visceral, and circulatory systems must work concurrently to achieve a balance. Osteopathic medicine aims to heal a person’s whole body not just a particular ailment. Patients get a full assessment of their body structure and functions with an aim to heal an illness and maintain good health.
There are a couple of manual techniques that are used for assessment, diagnosis and treatment in osteopathic medicine. It is essential to maintain a good musculoskeletal structure because failure to do so may directly affect delicate organs of the body. Patients are encouraged to exercise more often, adopt good posture and proper nutrition to help prevent disease or aid in recovery from illness. Osteopathy doesn’t just look at the physical wellbeing of an individual, it considers the occupation, family, emotional and cultural beliefs of that individual.
Osteopathic manipulative therapy can be used for treatment of musculoskeletal ailments like postural and sporting injuries or neck and back pain. Functional disorders like menstrual, digestive and breathing problems can be treated with osteopathy. The osteopathic therapy depends on physical manipulation, soft tissue treatment and stretching by a professional whose sense of touch is highly developed. Also, rhythmic mobilising and stretching techniques, short accurate impulses, very gentle and precise application of pressure and joint positioning techniques are necessary to achieve positive results. These techniques help in assessment, evaluation and diagnosis, relieve muscle tension, increase the flexibility of joints, improve the self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms of the body and also enhance blood and optimise nerve supply to tissues.
Primarily, osteopathic physicians use osteopathic manipulative therapy to treat somatic dysfunction in the bones, joints, tendons, muscles, and ligaments directly or by manipulating the body in such a way that the musculoskeletal system assumes self-healing. This technique helps reduce pain, minimises the need for pharmaceutical drugs and quickens recovery of the patient. Some osteopathic manipulative therapy techniques are similar to those used by physiotherapists and chiropractors but there are others peculiar to osteopathic medicine. There are several osteopathic manipulative therapy techniques that are commonly used by osteopathic physicians which could be direct or indirect.
Here are some osteopathic manipulative therapy techniques:
Articulatory Treatment System
This involves Springing which could be low, moderate or high amplitude aimed at improving joint functioning.
Soft Tissue Techniques
This includes the stretching of muscles and the connective tissues surrounding the muscles, organs and other body structures. This is often used when starting or concluding treatment.
High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA)
This involves using quick and short pokes through restrictive articulatory barriers. It is commonly known as the cracking or popping technique.
This involves the use of post-isometric relaxation to stretch muscles and increase extent of motion. Here, the patient moves to ease the stretched muscle while the physician makes use of an isometric counterforce to resists the movement.
This technique can be applied to a wide variety of patients. It involves the stretching of muscles and the connective tissues surrounding the muscles, organs and other body structures.
This involves the steady application pressure to help minimize muscle contraction or relax muscles.
Ligamentous Articulatory Release
Here, the joints and ligaments are positioned in such a way to balance tension until a release is felt.
Strain / Counter strain
This technique is used to relieve tenderness on some parts of the body by holding that part in a position for 90 seconds. This is done until a release is felt.
Visceral dysfunction occur due to tenderness on some body parts. Those points of tenderness are called Chapman’s points. Treatment can be done using muscle energy and myofascial release.
Facilitated Positional Release
This technique involves the placement of the affected patient’s spine at neutral position while segment that require treatment is isolated and placed at ease. Then, the release of muscles, joints, and the connective tissues surrounding the muscles is achieved using compression or traction.
Osteopathy in the Cranial Field
It is a system of treatment that utilizes the intrinsic motion of the cranial and neurological system to treat the whole body.
Here, the patient held at position of ease until release, then passively moved through the barrier quickly.
This involves the rhythmic, and usually passive movement of patient to increase flow of lymphatic fluid.
Osteopathic healthcare has been used safely and effectively in a growing number of countries around the world, with benefits to patients and a relatively low risk of harm.