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What is Osteopathy?

The year was 1874 and Andrew Still, the founder of Osteopathy, was looking for a way to improve on the current methods of treating. He had just lost his wife and 2 of his 4 children to a meningitis outbreak. Frustrated, he recognized a need to look at the body and the patient differently. Osteopathy evolved out of this new way of looking at the concept of health and treating for health.

Many of the symptoms people report to me are the body's attempt to express dysfunction, 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 heart attack can present as pain in the left arm or as ingestion. These are examples of referred symptoms. 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.
  2. It has its own self-protecting and healing mechanisms. (when these falter, dis-ease begins)
  3. Your structure (bones, muscles etc) and function (how the body works) are interrelated.
  4. Successful treatment (true healing) must consider and use the preceding three principles.

Let's look at a case study while keeping in mind the 3 three principles above.

Case Study

CR, female of 50 years, came in with ongoing right shoulder pain having had it for the past 8 months. Secondary, was tension between the shoulder blades. Blood work and X-rays were clear and direct therapy on the shoulder produced only temporary relief.

Upon examination I noted that the muscles in the right shoulder showed minimal dysfunction, but there were spinal segments misaligned between the shoulder blades and both reflex points for her stomach and liver were hyperactive- touching these very small points on her skin produced pain. I asked her about her stomach history and she informed me that she has had stomach reflux for years and had learned to 'live with it'. Here is how I treated her.

The stomach was treated both with manual therapy and adjustments in her eating habits to achieve balance in it's function. The liver and gallbladder were treated to encourage proper detoxification. A 3 week, at home, Gallbladder detoxification, was suggested. This stopped the referral pain into the right shoulder from the liver and gallbladder and the secondary pain between her shoulder blades. No work was done directly on the shoulder. The spinal segments between her shoulder blades were realigned using gentle non-thrusting techniques. At the end of the first treatment the pain between her shoulder blades was gone. At the end of her third treatment the right shoulder no longer bothered her.

Osteopathic manual practitioners recognize that a patient is an integrated whole. When all the body's components are in balance, a person is complete and in total health.