Osteopathy is a system of health care that focuses on treatment of the physical body (bones, joints, muscles and connective tissue). It also looks at the effect mechanical compromise has on the body's circulatory, nervous and endocrine systems and how this impacts on health.
Osteopathy is a five-year full-time university course where graduates complete a double degree including a Masters Degree. Osteopaths use standard medical and orthopaedic tests to diagnose a wide range of disorders. These joint or soft tissue disorders cause interference to the nervous and circulatory (vascular and lymphatic) systems which, as a result, can cause symptoms or impede the body's inherent healing ability.
Osteopaths locate and then safely and gently correct these disorders. A variety of gentle hands-on techniques are used to care for their patients, including stretching, massage, muscle release, mobilisation and manipulation. The techniques chosen for the condition vary, depending on factors such as how long the condition has been there, the age of the patient etc.
Osteopaths treat more than just the spine. They can treat and help prevent a wide range of health problems from lower back pain and headaches, to asthma, arthritis, developmental disorders in children, sports and motor vehicle injuries, tennis elbow, overuse injury and knee problems.
Osteopathy not only treats injured muscles, ligaments and joints, but also influences the nerve and blood supply to the affected area. Approaches used can include mobilisation, specific spinal manipulation, muscle release, myofascial trigger point release, low force techniques, cranial osteopathy, etc.
By keeping the moving parts of the body healthy one is likely to enjoy a longer and healthier life, less afflicted by chronic joint or muscle pain and stiffness. As a result of increased levels of activity and mobility, the body maintains an optimum level of circulation (blood and lymphatic). This ensures that all organs and tissues have adequate nutrient supply to them and drainage of metabolised lymphatic fluid taken away from them.
It is obvious to most of us that elderly people who are healthy usually have an adequate level of mobility - the body and its organs are kept healthy as a result of an adequate nerve and blood supply, which in turn is dependent upon mobility and movement throughout the body.
This highlights the significance of osteopathy within the health care spectrum, particularly in a society which is living longer, and hence requires a longer lifespan of the musculoskeletal system.
Osteopathy is fast becoming recognised as a system of health that has a vital role in maintaining our future health.