Pioneered in the late 1800’s by a medical physician named Andrew Taylor Still, Osteopathic Medicine is dedicated to the treatment and healing of the entire patient, as opposed to addressing only the patient’s symptoms.
Osteopathy is a hands-on approach to health maintenance in which the natural healing forces of the body are assisted. This, in turn, allows normal structure and function to be maintained.
Both Osteopathic (D.0.) and Allopathic (M.D.) physicians in the United States attend four years of college, four years of medical school, as well as residency training. In addition, Osteopathic physicians receive extensive training in the anatomy, physiology, and manipulation of the musculoskeletal system. As a result, they are able to integrate manual treatments into an overall practice of medicine which supports the body’s natural healing process.
What to Expect
Osteopathic care focuses on treating patients, not diseases. While almost any condition may benefit, it is particularly effective for patients who suffer from musculoskeletal problems like back, neck or shoulder pain, TMJ, fibromyalgia, in addition to asthma, headaches, ear and sinus infections, head trauma, infantile and learning disorders and many other conditions.
Osteopaths look at the whole person and help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness, but prevent it, too. They consider all the factors in an individual’s life including diet, exercise, physical and emotional stress, as well as genetic, environmental, and occupational influences.
A treatment session involves assessing the normal structure and function of each patient from head to toe to see where restriction is present. Various techniques are utilized involving gentle and precise hands-on manipulation of the bones (head, spine, tailbone, and extremities), soft tissue and fluids of the body to restore normal motion.
Cranial Osteopathy (craniosacral)
A student of Dr. Still, William G. Sutherland, D.O., expanded the Osteopathic approach with the discovery of the cranial mechanism, which may in time be regarded as one of the most important discoveries in human physiology.
Inside the skull or cranium there is a covering over the brain, the dura, that continues down inside the spine to the tailbone and sacrum. This covering protects and supports the central nervous system (CNS), which controls the functioning of every organ, muscle, and nerve in the body. The CNS uses fluid .called cerebrospinal fluid to keep the entire body functioning properly. There is movement between the bones of the skull and their sutures, and at the sacrum and tailbone which is driven by fluctuation of this fluid within the dura. This movement is part of a primary rhythmic mechanism of the fluids of the body that is vitally important in the expression of health, including the optimal function of the body’s own healing system.
Osteopaths are trained to access the flow of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the body to determine if there is a restriction of its motion caused by injury or disease. Normalizing the balance and restoring the flow of fluid throughout the body assists in the removal of injury patterns or disease processes..