Osteopathy is a healing art which involves the diagnosis and treatment of structural and mechanical dysfunctions of the body. Osteopathy recognizes that the body is an instrinsically self-healing, self-regulating and self-correcting organism. Osteopaths believe that physical imbalances and strains can impair the ability of the body to maintain itself in a state of health.
Osteopaths do not simply concentrate on treating the problem area, but use manual techniques to balance interrelated systems of the body to improve health and wellbeing.
Osteopaths consider that health is not simply the absence of disease or pain. It is a state of balance and harmony between the body, mind and spirit of a person. In health a body should be able to deal with health challenges and restore itself to optimum health afterwards.
Accumulation of stress and strain in the body
Most of us have been exposed to stressful physical or emotional events at some stage in our life, and the effects of these events can accumulate. Gradually the body may find it more and more difficult to cope, and symptoms may start to show. Patients may say that they feel as though their body has ‘got stuck’‚ and is unable to work properly.
The whole body is connected
The body is largely made of connective tissues (bones, muscles, ligaments, fascia, blood vessels, even internal organs are simply specialised connective tissues) and water. The connective tissues are continuous throughout the body, and are maintained in a state of balance rather like a giant mobile. Any area of restriction or tension will change the balance throughout the connective tissue system, ie the whole body.
Imagine a tangle in a mobile which causes the whole mobile to hang crooked, or if someone was hanging on to your T-shirt, you would feel that your whole shirt was uncomfortable and twisted. So for example, a limp will change the balance of the pelvis, lower back and neck, and this has to be accommodated by the pelvis, spine, rib cage, shoulders and neck. Stiffness or restricted mobility in any of these areas can make it difficult to compensate for the limp, and symptoms such as aching or pain in the low back or neck, or tension headaches may result.
What can Osteopaths treat?
Osteopaths treat the person not the condition. All areas of symptoms are taken into account, and the osteopath works with structural imbalances that are present in the body to restore a state of physical balance. Patients often report improvement in many areas of their health.
The Advertising Standards Agency will only allow osteopaths mention conditions where the efficacy has been proven by large scale clinical trials. This data is not available for many conditions that patients report improvement in, so they may not be mentioned here.