What is Osteopathy?
Article written by Anne-Marie Mougeot, B.Sc.Kin., D.O.M.P.
Have you heard of osteopathy? Perhaps it has been suggested that you see an osteopathic practitioner for your particular condition or set of symptoms, but you aren’t quite sure what osteopathy actually is. Osteopathy is still relatively new to Vancouver Island, and there are only about 100 osteopathic practitioners in British Columbia at this time. As one of the only osteopathic practitioners in the Nanaimo area, I thought it would be informative to write and share a blogpost describing osteopathy in order to help to create awareness of our profession.
Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy that takes into account the patient as a whole. Osteopathy holds the view that the body is a self-regulating, functional unit with many interrelationships. Keeping these relationships in mind, and by using skilled palpation and knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, osteopathic practitioners asses and treat the body as a whole, functioning unit.
A wide array of manual approaches can be used to reduce and resolve strains, stress, and tension in all areas of the body, while respecting the needs and preferences of the patient. Osteopathic manual therapy techniques may include myofascial type techniques, visceral manipulation, gentle joint mobilizations, and craniosacral techniques.
Myofascial release type techniques may involve the practitioner placing their hands gently on an area of the body and either inducing a gentle stretch, directly working with the tissues, or placing the tissues into a gentle compression, which allows the nerves in the tissues to relax, thus increasing range of motion, tissue pliability, and reducing pain.
Visceral manipulation typically involves the practitioner placing their hand on the abdomen, pelvis, or chest of the patient, with the intent of working with the organs of the body. For example, the practitioner may gently move their hand along the belly with a soft pressure in order to promote gut motility and to aid in digestion.
Gentle joint mobilizations can be achieved with a variety of different techniques, such as gently rocking an individual joint to encourage movement, or passively taking a joint through various ranges of motions to then encourage increased active movement.
Craniosacral osteopathy works with the skull, spine, and sacrum, all of which are connected by the brain and spinal cord. The main effect from craniosacral therapy is typically a deep sense of relaxation as the nervous system finds the opportunity to move into more of a parasympathetic state. There may be various additional benefits as a result of deep relaxation and calming of the nervous system.
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Because the body seeks to maintain a balance within and between all of its systems and has the innate ability to heal itself, osteopathic practitioners do not consider themselves as healers, but rather, work as facilitators of recovery in constant communication with the patient and the feedback they receive from the patient’s body.
For more information on whether osteopathic treatment may be right for you, click here.
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