Osteopathy – A Holistic Approach to Healing

Osteopathy is a fast-growing approach to healing and wellness that can benefit your musculoskeletal framework and other systems of the body. Many people approach an osteopath for back pain, although prevention is also possible. Unlike a chiropractor, an osteopathic physician does not typically “pop” the joints. Rather, osteopathic physicians use manual manipulations to assess and treat the whole body.

The practice is based on the belief that the body’s structure and function are interconnected, and that treating one part of the body can have a positive impact on another part of the body. Osteopathy uses methods like cranial therapy, myofascial release and visceral manipulation to work with the entire system. This holistic approach translates into noticeable improvement in the circulatory, nervous and lymphatic systems, as well as overall health and well-being.

A common treatment technique is called osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). OMT includes stretching, gentle pressure and resistance, as well as joint mobilization techniques. It is performed by osteopathic doctors, called Doctors of Osteopathy, or DOs. Unlike other practitioners who perform manual therapy, DOs receive extensive training in manipulation and take a whole patient-based approach to health.

Some OMT techniques are direct, while others are indirect. For example, in a rib raising technique, the DO moves the limbs of the patient in a way that increases flexion and extension while decreasing thoracic rotation. Then, the osteopathic physician compares the movement in each of the limbs and finds the area that has the greatest restriction or barrier. This barrier is identified by a lack of motion, pain or tissue thickness, and can be felt with the fingers or toes. The osteopathic physician can then apply muscle energy technique to increase range of motion in the restricted areas [1].

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