An osteopathic physician will focus on the joints, muscles, and spine. Treatment aims to positively affect the body's nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.
Manual medicine means that both diagnosis and treatment are carried out with the hands.
Osteopathy is a complementary therapy. It is used alongside conventional treatment to improve health. However, osteopathic physicians are also qualified as medical doctors (MDs), and they have more training than other complementary therapists, such as naturopaths. They specialize in osteopathy.
- Osteopathy uses a drug-free, non-invasive form of manual medicine that focuses on the health of the whole body, not just the injured or affected part.
- The osteopathic physician focuses on the joints, muscles, and spine.
- Osteopathic intervention can help treat arthritis, back pain, headaches, tennis elbow, digestive issues, and postural problems.
- Treatment can also assist with sleep cycles and the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic symptoms.
What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy takes a holistic, whole-body approach to healthcare.
It uses manual 'hands-on' techniques to improve circulation and correct altered biomechanics, without the use of drugs.
An osteopathic physician does not concentrate only on the problem area, but uses manual techniques to balance all the body systems, and to provide overall good health and wellbeing.
Techniques include stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance, known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.
Osteopathy can provide relief and treatment for a wide range of conditions.
- foot, ankle, hip, and knee pain
- back pain, neck pain, and sciatica
- hand, shoulder, and elbow pain
- tennis and golfer's elbow
- postural problems due to pregnancy, sports injury, driving or work strain, or digestive issues
Osteopathic physicians can also detect conditions that are not treatable through osteopathy, to refer patients to other specialists.
What to expect
An individual may have a referral from a primary care physician, or they may refer themselves.
Osteopathy is patient-centered. An initial consultation will take place before any active treatment or management begins.
During this consultation, the osteopathic physician will discuss the patient's health problems, listen, and take case notes. The session will last approximately 45 minutes.
The osteopathic physician will physically examine the patient, who may need to remove some clothing to carry out the diagnosis. Patient privacy should be respected during this process.
The examination may take 1 hour.
The patient will be asked to demonstrate simple stretches and movements to help the osteopathic physician make an accurate analysis of their posture and mobility.
The doctor will also assess the health of the joints, ligaments, and tissues, using a highly trained technique of touch known as palpation.
The osteopathic physician will propose a treatment plan to meet the patient's needs.
This will include the number of sessions likely to be needed, although this number may change depending on the patient's response to treatment.
Osteopathy emphasizes self-healing, so an osteopathic physician may also advise dietary changes, home exercise programs, and lifestyle adjustments.
Is an osteopathic physician the same as a chiropractor?
A chiropractor can also treat the back, but their focus is more likely to be on the position of the spine and joints, with the aim of improving nerve function and healing ability.
A chiropractor is more likely to "pop" or "crack" the joints. An osteopathic physician does not usually do this. A chiropractor will focus on a specific problem area, while an osteopath looks at the body as a whole. An Osteopathic physician is a medical doctor with specialized training in the fast-growing approach to healing and wellness.
Osteopathy can benefit the musculoskeletal framework and other systems.
Osteopathy and back pain
Many people approach an osteopathic physician with back pain, but preventive treatment is also possible.
Today's increasingly sedentary lifestyle means that the average American will spend over href="http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/30/health/americans-screen-time-nielsen/index.html" target="_blank">10.5 hours per day in front of a screen. This can lead to poor posture and musculoskeletal problems.
Treatment involves gentle and subtle manipulation, especially of the muscles and soft tissues. The doctor may stretch or massage the muscle.
If there are signs of a displaced disk or other serious condition, the osteopathic physician may recommend doing some imaging tests and direct the patient toward conventional treatment.
An osteopathic physician can help prevent problems by pinpointing potential sources of referred pain in good time.
They may suggest dietary modifications and changes to workplace ergonomics, such as seating and desk position.
Prevention advice can involve:
- stretching exercises
- lifting techniques
- stress reduction
These techniques can help improve posture and reduce pain. Learning to lift with the legs, or example, and to stretch before exercise can reduce injury.
Lifestyle changes can dramatically improve health and reduce ongoing health risks and costs.
Preventing injury means more time keeping active, less time off work, and freedom to enjoy the benefits of healthful living.
Osteopathy and sleep
Pain and discomfort can lead to a lack of sleep or restless nights.
This can make it harder for the body to function adequately, and reduce the ability to cope with pain.
Osteopathy has been shown to reduce sleeplessness and insomnia resulting from chronic pain.
Studies have shown that osteopathic treatment can reduce sleep apnea in infants under 4 months old, but further research is needed to confirm this.
Other body systems
Osteopathic treatments can positively impact the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems, to improve body function and overall health.
Some osteopathic techniques may enhance lymphatic health and bring about internal improvements in the body without needing invasive surgical treatment.