What is Osteopathy?


Osteopathy treats a wide range of conditions, from chronic pain to acute injuries. Using a variety of techniques, osteopathy is suitable for all: children, adults, seniors, pregnant women, and sportsmen alike. It also targets various anatomical structures (joints, ligaments, muscles, fasciae) that can limit the body in its normal physiological functioning.

Since the end of the 19th century, the evolution of scientific findings and understanding of biologic processes by which the body functions and attempts to maintain health has had a direct effect on the way osteopathy is developed.

We went from only three or four separate styles of osteopathic techniques to over a dozen individual styles. The ability to perform a treatment in a range of extremely gentle to more forceful manner, combined with a direct or indirect approach, has caused practitioners to look differently at the application of the techniques, generally making the decision on a case-by-case basis of clinical presentation.

Adaptation is the key.

It is important to adapt the treatment to each patient, and to consider everyone as an individual. Two patients with similar symptoms will not necessarily be treated the same way.

The osteopath has to decide which technique is clinically indicated for a particular patient. This is what makes every treatment stimulating: it is unique and will always differ from the other. The physician must understand the nature of the dysfunction and the technique best suited to treat it successfully.

Modern conception of osteopathy

As of today, it is essential to evaluate the most current knowledge base in the fields of biomechanics, neuroscience, and osteopathic principles and practice.

One of the main goals of an everyday practice would be attempting a balance between practice-based evidence, resulting from the practitioner’s experience, and evidence based practice, confirmed by the most recent scientific findings.

What have become clear are the relative limitations – apart from offering symptomatic relief – of excessive therapeutic attention being paid to where pain is being experienced. Low back pain, for example, can well be the end-result of adaptive changes resulting from a primary lower limb imbalance, or a head/neck imbalance – and treating the area of pain without attention to the origin is – to paraphrase an old osteopathic term – no more than ‘engine wiping’.

For these reasons, osteopathy seeks to define and treat the origin of the symptoms, which can sometimes be seemingly unrelated to the initial complaint expressed by the patient.

Benefits of osteopathy

As said before, the osteopath considers the body as a whole, and does not solely treat the symptoms (such as pain), but goes further to look after the cause (such as joint disorder). It is therefore effective in treating older or poorly treated injuries that are chronic as well as more acute conditions.

Osteopathy is also beneficial as a preventative measure against recurring patterns of pain and discomfort, and is addressed to all: adults, sportsmen, infants, pregnant women, and seniors.

Commonly seen conditions

Spine: low back pain, sciatica, chest pain, neck pain, torticollis, whiplash, cervico brachial neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia…

Limbs: tendinitis, repetitive sprain, muscle stiffness, tennis or golfer’s elbow, painful or hypomobile joints, scapulo-humeral periarthritis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis…

Jaw: opening/mastication/swallowing issues, ear/ mandibular pain, headaches, teeth grinding, tinnitus, painful dental treatment…

Cranium: headaches, migraines, occipital neuralgia, tension headache, sinusitis…

Visceral: irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, acid reflux, and swollen abdomen…


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