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What is Osteopathy?

Journal: Osteopathy Inc.
Date: 10 / 2011
Author: Cameron Moffatt D.O.(MP)

Osteopathy is a system of working manually on the body to enhance health and balanced movement. Osteopaths treat not the symptoms but the primary dysfunction. It is a hands on full body, patient focused therapy. Osteopathy is often referred to as Osteopathic Manual Therapy (OMT).

Many of the symptoms people report to me are the body's attempt to express dysfunction and are usually not in the area of the symptom. Our brains have a limited awareness of our bodies. If, say, the stomach is upset, often people will feel tension in their upper back. Constipation can refer pain into the lower back. A hiatus hernia or inflamed esophagus- think heartburn, reflux or GERD- will refer into the upper chest region and can cause shortness of breath, raise blood pressure or lead to something called 'frozen shoulder'. Gall Bladder dysfunction is often sensed in the upper right shoulder and neck. These are examples of referred symptoms. A joint that continues to cause pain even after repeated adjustments is not the problem. Realize that bone material is inert, it can not move on its own. In the absence of a direct impact that has caused the joint to misalign, something is either pulling the joint or a laxity somewhere is allowing the joint to misalign. This is where I start as an Osteopath- what is the real cause? And just as importantly, what can be done to allow the joint to stay there? Is a stretching routine required? Is a strengthening approach better? Are organs not functioning well and causing referred pain? (see the article on my website “Had enough of your back pain?” www.moffattneedham.com) I have a rule I follow- I will not adjust the same bone/joint more than twice.

As an Osteopathic Practitioner, I am trained to see these symptoms as signals that something else may be the primary concern.

Osteopathy is a system of health care that follows 4 main principles when treating a person.

  1. Your body is a complete unit. Unlike Allopathy (MDs) where each part is considered separately, Osteopathy looks at you as a whole person, where all parts must do their jobs.
  2. It has its own self-protecting and healing mechanisms. The body can not be 'forced' into health with drugs or surgery. Given the opportunity, your body will work very hard to get into homeo-dynamics, that is balanced/healthy motion.
  3. Your structure [bones, muscles, organs] and function [how the body works ] are interrelated. As an example, if you restrict blood flow, the function, to an area-organ or muscle tissue - that structure will now start to dysfunction - hurt!
  4. Successful treatment [true resolution] must consider and use the preceding three principles.

Cameron Moffatt is a graduate of the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy, www.canadianosteopathy.ca and a member of the Society for the Promotion of Manual Practice Osteopathy, http://www.osteopathybc.ca.