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  • Writer's pictureLolitaire Healey

Discovering Osteopathy: What It Is, How It Works, and the Possible Benefits"

Are you curious about a more natural and wholistic form of healthcare? Have you heard about Osteopathy, but are not quite sure what it entails?

If so, then you have come to the right place! In this blog post, we will explore the world of Osteopathy - what it is, how it works, and the potential benefits it offers.

We will delve a bit into the philosophy behind Osteopathy, what to commonly expect at a consultation, the techniques used by practitioners, and the conditions it may help to alleviate. By the end of this post, you will have more understanding of Osteopathy and its benefits. Whether you are considering trying this form of therapy for the first time or simply want to learn more about it, this blog post is a valuable resource for anyone interested in natural healthcare.


What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a healthcare approach and manual therapy that uses a hands-on approach to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including musculoskeletal pain, joint disorders, sports injuries, and other health issues. It focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, viscera, and nerves. It was founded in the late 1800s by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, who believed that the body had a natural ability to heal itself and that the musculoskeletal system played a vital role in maintaining overall health.

Osteopaths go through rigorous study in the musculoskeletal system (bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons), the nervous system (nerves, spinal cord, and brain), and the visceral system (organ systems).

Osteopathic treatment aims to restore the body to a state of balance and to encourage its innate ability to heal, without the use of drugs or surgery. However, as experts in their field, Osteopaths can also recognize when more serious medical intervention or surgery may be required and can refer an individual back to their GP for an MRI scan or appointment with a consultant if deemed appropriate.


Principles of Osteopathy

These principles guide Osteopathic practice and philosophy.

1) The body is a unit

Osteopaths view the body as a whole, with all its parts interrelated and functioning together. They consider the body as an integrated unit, and that one part's health can affect the whole's health.

2) The body has a self-healing mechanism

The body has an innate ability to heal itself. Osteopaths emphasize supporting and facilitating the body's natural healing processes rather than just treating symptoms.

3) Structure and function are interrelated

Osteopaths believe that the structure and function of the body are closely connected. Proper alignment and function of the musculoskeletal system, including the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia, are considered important for overall health and well-being.

4) The rule of the artery is supreme

Emphasis on the importance of good blood flow and circulation for optimal health. Osteopaths believe that unrestricted blood flow is essential for the body's ability to function properly and heal itself.

5) The body's ability to regulate and adapt

Osteopaths recognize the body's inherent ability to self-regulate and adapt to changes in its environment. Treatment aims to support the body's adaptive mechanisms and restore balance and function.

6) The importance of the musculoskeletal system

Osteopaths place special emphasis on the musculoskeletal system, as it plays a critical role in the body's structure, movement, and function. Treatment often aims to maintain proper alignment, mobility, and musculoskeletal system function for overall health.

7) The role of the Osteopath as a facilitator

Osteopaths see themselves as facilitators of the body's healing processes, rather than just treating symptoms. They aim to work with the body's natural ability to heal, using a holistic approach.


Most commonly treated conditions

  • Arthritic pain

  • Muscle spasms

  • Aches and pains

  • Acute/chronic neck pain

  • Acute/chronic low back pain

  • Knee pain

  • Tennis elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

  • Osteoarthritis of the hip/knee

  • Shoulder girdle pain

  • Carpel tunnel

  • Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

  • Headaches (neck-related, sinus-related, tension headaches)

  • Migraine

  • Whiplash associated disorders

  • Sports injuries

  • Sciatica

  • Plantar Fascitis

  • Neuralgia

It is also used to help manage chronic conditions such as asthma, arthritis, chronic headache, and digestive disorders.


What to expect when seeing an Osteopath

In this video from the General Osteopathic Council, you can discover what your first session with an Osteopath is most likely to look like.


How do Osteopaths treat?

Osteopaths use a variety of manual techniques and other interventions to support the body's self-healing mechanisms, promote optimal function, re-educate the nervous system, learn new movement patterns, and improve overall health and well-being. Osteopaths do not use medication or surgery.

These techniques commonly include:

  • soft tissue massage

  • joint mobilization

  • stretching

  • joint manipulation.

Some other techniques include:

  • movement rehabilitation/ exercise prescription

  • acupuncture

  • scraping/ gua sha

  • cupping

  • K-taping

Some Osteopaths also work with patients to help them make lifestyle changes that can support their overall health, such as improving their posture, exercise habits, and diet. They may also consider other factors such as nutrition, lifestyle, and emotional well-being as important components of overall health.


Benefits of Osteopathy treatment

  • Decrease in pain, including chronic pain

  • Increased mobility and joint movement

  • Increased flexibility

  • Decreased muscle tension

  • Enhancing the blood supply to tissues

  • Encouraging tissue healing

Osteopathy is a wonderfully diverse profession. Osteopaths can practice in a variety of ways using varied techniques. So if you are considering seeing an Osteopath, be sure to explore your options and find an Osteopath whose specialism and techniques align with your goals for treatment.


Professional Regulation

In many countries, Osteopathy is a regulated healthcare profession, with Osteopaths requiring a degree-level education and ongoing professional development to maintain their license to practice. In some countries, such as the United States, osteopaths may also be licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery.

In the United Kingdom, Osteopathy is a regulated profession, and the title 'Osteopath' is protected. The General Osteopathic Council regulates all osteopaths in the UK and every osteopath is insured and fully CRB checked.

Osteopaths are primary healthcare professionals (you do not require a referral from your GP) and work alongside other healthcare professionals such as GPs, nurses, and midwives to ensure you receive the best care.


In summary, Osteopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on the musculoskeletal system and the body's natural ability to heal itself. It is used to treat a wide range of conditions and is practiced by healthcare professionals who have received specialized training and education in this field.


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