What is Classical Osteopathy?
Classical Osteopathy is a method of physical treatment first developed by A.T. Still, an American physician in the 19th century. It is an established and recognized system of diagnosis and treatment and offers primary medical healthcare to its patients.
The main principles of osteopathy lay in the natural self-sufficiency of the human body and the interrelationships between structure and function. Osteopathy offers a holistic assessment of the patient with emphasis on the structural integrity of the body offering a unique way to understand the patient’s complaints from a mechanical, functional and postural perspective.
Age is no barrier to osteopathy since each patient is examined and assessed individually and treatment therefore is according to the presenting complaints and needs of the patient.
“Understand the root cause of the problem
rather than just address the peripheral symptoms.”
Treatment is designed to correct each individual’s mechanical problems with the use of gentle manual techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments. Often this technique includes the use of manipulative adjustments to release joint restriction in order to inhibit aberrant neurological reflex pathways and stimulate the natural healing processes of the body.
In Osteopathy we consider the patients health as a contributing factor of any presenting symptoms of the musculoskeletal system. The aim of osteopathic treatment is to understand the root cause of the problem rather than just address the peripheral symptoms.
Back pain may not be caused primarily, as thought, by damage to related structures but by causes originating from other areas of the body. Often we find that the site of pain and the cause of the dysfunction are at a distance from each other and seem unrelated. This correlation and interrelation of all body structures and function demonstrates how the body acts as an integrated functional unit.
In Classical Osteopathy we do not relate to treatment of selected parts of the body in isolation. We aim to restore health by improving the structural and functional relationship of the whole body.
It is therefore consider the whole patient’s health as a contributing factor in the presentation of the complaint and treat the cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. We look for factors that may predispose the patient to injuries and prevent these by resolving underlying mechanical and postural disturbances.
These are the eight major principles of osteopathy and are widely taught throughout the international osteopathic community:
- The body is a unit.
- Structure and function are reciprocally inter-related.
- The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms.
- The body has the inherent capacity to defend and repair itself.When the normal adaptability is disrupted, or when environmental changes overcome the body’s capacity for self-maintenance, disease may ensue.
- The movement of body fluids is essential to the maintenance of health.
- The nerves play a crucial part in controlling the fluids of the body.
- There are somatic components to disease that are not only manifestations of disease, but also are factors that contribute to maintenance of the disease state.
- These principles are thought to be the underpinnings of the osteopathic philosophy on health and disease but are not held to be empirical laws by osteopathic practitioners.
The importance of the spine
The spines structure is composed of a series of vertebrae joining together and forming a close association with the skull, ribs and pelvis. There are 102 joints all exposed to the inevitable constant force of gravity. Therefore some of these areas of the spine are definite points of weakness due to their anatomical and mechanical role within such complex structure.
The spine must not only support the body in the erect position, but it also has to cope with all the physical burdens and strains of a lifetime and allow perfect freedom of movement in all directions.
The effects of posture and gravity line are of great importance to the osteopath. A detailed medical history together with a spinal examination and the evaluation of the pelvis and posture gives the osteopath all necessary information to diagnose and understand the problem pattern the patient presents with. In treatment the osteopath will aim to restore health by adjusting spinal mechanics and address all factors that may interfere with optimal function.