Osteopathy is considered a complementary or alternative medicine in the UK, although the profession is regulated and requires practitioners to be qualified. Osteopaths put their hands on the body to detect tension or imbalances that are causing pain or illnesses, and use physical manipulation to re-establish equilibrium. So how do you know when to consult an osteopath? And what does osteopathy involve?
When to consult an osteopath?
For osteopaths, all problems, both physical and psychological, have consequences in the body, and an osteopath can treat and relieve aches and pains associated with:
- back ache, sciatica, tendonitis, pelvic joint anomalies, and various forms of back pain.
- asthma, obstructive chronic lung disease, pneumonia
- pain following surgery or accidents (fractures, sprains, etc.)
- pain associated with giving birth
- painful periods
- depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, stress, sleep problems, spasmophilia
- irritable bowel syndrome, colic, pancreatitis, intestinal problems, constipation, digestion difficulties, gastritis, gastric acid
- spastic cerebral palsy
- rhinitis, sinusitis, vertigo, ringing in the ears, headaches, migraines, bronchitis, asthma, bronchiolitis, ear infections
- other mobility restrictions caused by the joints, muscles or ligaments or poor functioning of the organs which can lead to a lack of equilibrium
The osteopath guides the patient towards developing good posture at work, to prevent muscular and joint problems. They also support them to relieve stress and negative thinking, which can disturb the functioning of the body.
Osteopathy aims to re-establish the body’s harmony by healing mobility problems, because according to osteopathy, the mobility of the joints and the activity of our organs is a gauge of good health.
Even if osteopathy is not widely available on the NHS, certain private health insurance packages may cover some of the costs.
What will the osteopath do during the sessions?
Osteopathy considers diverse body functions to be closely interdependent with the musculo-skeletal system. That is to say, what happens in one part of the body impacts on other parts. This is why the osteopath may manipulate areas of the body that are far from the site of the pain.
Finally, in osteopathy, the role of the blood vessels is essential. For a well irrigated and fully functioning body, it is important that the arteries are not congested or suffering from cell degeneration. This is why it is considered important to repair them and work on any points of pressure or blockages which restrict mobility in certain tissues, organs, muscles or joints.
Primary respiratory mechanism
In osteopathy, the primary respiratory mechanism relates to the rhythmic pulses of the body, the involuntary expansion and retraction movements that are produced even when the body is asleep. According to the teachings of osteopathy, when a person’s primary respiratory mechanism is deficient, they will lack vitality and feel a heaviness in their bodies and in their thinking.
With the help of very gentle manual manipulation, often performed on the skull, the osteopath will seek to “refocus” the bones and the body to help the primary respiratory mechanism get back into rhythm. These techniques are referred to as “cranial manipulations”.
Other osteopathy techniques
Here are 3 other categories of the main osteopathy manipulation techniques:
- functional manipulation, allowing the therapist to mobilise the relevant tissues (muscles, joints, etc.) and to induce sufficient relaxation to allow for an injury to heal itself.
- structural manipulation, aimed at applying pressure to a certain structure, for example, to free a trapped vertebrae. Although it is not painful, you may hear a cracking sensation.
- organ manipulation, which aims to get the organs working to their max (the intestines, the liver, the spleen, the lungs, etc.), which could be linked to certain functional problems.