There is no one technique specific to osteopathic therapy, but its practice demands the body be addressed as a whole unit – body, mind and spirit. As osteopathic therapists, we understand the body’s interrelated parts and the dynamic relationship between them. We can easily explain how a stiff hip can cause a sore shoulder or how knee pain can be traced back to a tight back. Osteopathic therapists do more than that, however. We acknowledge that the interrelated nature of the body also applies to the interrelated nature of the person. Osteopathic therapists can help explain how stress from work or home affect your body’s ability to heal. We understand that the key to recovering from long-term pain may require both a course of treatment and lifestyle changes.
The word “osteopathy” comes from two Greek words meaning bone and dysfunction. The founder of osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, chose this name to highlight how the structure of the skeleton is vital to the proper function of the body’s systems. Misalignment of bones can cause dysfunction. Therefore manual osteopathic therapists assess, diagnose and treat disorders of the body’s structure as it relates to any of the body’s systems: muscular, skeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, nervous or reproductive. In fact, osteopathic therapists work not only with the spine and joints, but with tissues, scars, fascia and fluids as well. We use manipulations to joints or organs and gentle movements to correct biomechanical dysfunctions. By restoring proper mechanics to an area, we allow the normal flow of fluids and improve function. By easing restrictions in this way, your body has the chance to mend and you can be healthy and comfortable once again.
Osteopathic therapy has many techniques that vary from practitioner to practitioner based on what an individual patient requires. The therapist will look at your unique system before selecting the particular osteopathic technique that will work for you. There is no single protocol that is applied to all patients. It doesn’t particularly matter what or where your problem is. It could be anything from a childhood injury to painful menstrual cramps or recurring headaches. What matters is the methodical way in which the therapist addresses and removes the restrictions that are causing you a problem.
Osteopathic therapists have been trained to have “listening hands”. We have developed such an acute and accurate sense of touch that an untrained person would be surprised at how much we can understand about a patient just through our hands. Developing this extraordinarily detailed sense of touch requires many years of training and experience, and all the therapists in our clinic have both. We combine our intellectual knowledge of anatomy in motion with what we feel in our hands to understand the story being told by your tissues. We then use gentle manipulation to free restricted joints, tight muscles, tethered nerves and blockages around organs. The release of tension allows healing to occur.
In many ways, osteopathic therapy might seem like good, old-fashioned hands-on healing. But the healing does not involve any special “force.” There is a misunderstanding in popular culture about healing. Many people think that healing is something that is done to you. It is not. Healing is something that is facilitated. Your body is hard-wired to return to health. If you scratch your arm, you expect your body to stop the bleeding, develop a scab and eventually heal. Given the proper conditions, the same is true for almost any injury or illness. Osteopathic therapists help to generate those conditions, as though we were removing the pin that scratched your arm. With our intelligent hands and deep understanding of the body, osteopathic therapists help to remove obstacles and unravel places of tension so that your health returns.
Osteopathic therapists connect with each patient as a unique individual. There is no routine approach. Osteopathic therapists view the body as greater than a collection of its parts. We therefore understand that if one area of your body is not functioning normally, it can cause symptoms to appear elsewhere in your body. We always look for the hidden factors that underlie any illness or injury. Osteopathic therapists acknowledge the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. Our goal is to restore this self-correcting potential by removing the obstacles that impede healing. Osteopathy was first practiced in the U.S. in the early 1900s by doctors who noticed that structural corrections with their hands led to functional improvements in their patients without the use of drugs. As the founder of modern Osteopathy once said “To find health should be the object of the practitioner. Anyone can find disease.” ~ A. T. Still