What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is an approach to health that follows the principles of the 19th century Dr. Andrew Taylor Still and which, based on a deep understanding of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics of the human body, is characterized by an overall view of the patient and aims to restore the health that is present in all of us.
The purpose of the osteopath is to improve the movement and function of the different parts of the body that have mobility restrictions, to help recover their state of wellbeing.
Except in the case of severe trauma, where anything is possible, when a dysfunction appears, the body will put in place all the resources it has available to solve the problem by adapting as best it can to those stresses that imbalance it (physical, chemical, emotional).
When this adaptation is not possible, symptoms will occur indicating that there is something that is not working well and that the body has begun to compensate. In osteopathy we understand that these symptoms are a consequence of the bodies attempt to compensate.
It is the work of the osteopath to understand these adaptations and how they effect the body, consequently determining the root of the problem that brings the patient to the office. This is accomplished through an accurate assessment and an adequate and effective praxis.
Osteopathy is aimed at all types of people, from newborns to seniors, athletes and pregnant women.
“Find the injury, correct it and let nature do its job.”
– A.T. Still. Father of Classical Osteopathy –
What can I expect from an osteopathy session?
In the first visit, which can last between 45 minutes and 1 hour, I will complete your intake sheet, asking a series of questions to understand the reason for the consultation, medical, surgical and traumatic history, life habits, etc.
From there on, I will perform an examination by looking at your posture, assessing joint movement and will palpitate different tissues to see if there are any problematic areas including any restrictions.
Next I, having ruled out possible contraindications, will be able to perform manual techniques on tissue restrictions to restore their mobility.
The range of techniques used in osteopathy is very wide and includes anything from precise and safe joint adjustments to more specific techniques for treating visceral, cranial dysfunctions, etc…
Finally, I can often recommend some exercises, lifestyle habits and eating tips that can help solve the problem.
If I determine that osteopathy is not the best course of treatment, I will refer you to another health care professional (nutritionist, dentist, neurologist, podiatrist, etc.), one that I believe is better suited to meet your specific needs.
How can osteopathy help me?
Although I will make reference to specific areas that can be addressed by osteopathy, it is important to understand that some biological systems depend on and effect the others, through mechanical relationships of the nervous system, circulation, etc. That is why I will employ a global approach, seeking improvement of your overall wellbeing.
The following are some of the most common reasons for an osteopathic consultation:
Structural osteopathy studies bio-mechanical, structural and functional imbalances and in particular, disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
One of the main reasons people seek osteopathic treatment is discomfort related to the spine: lower back or general back pain, sciatica, cervical pain, arm pain, protrusions and herniated disks.
I have a wide range of specific handling techniques, depending on the vertebral region to be treated.
Pelvis, hip, knee or ankle problems; tendon inflammation; shoulder, elbow and hand discomfort…all can be relieved by osteopathy, working on the effected area as well as reviewing other areas that may be contributing to the problem.
Organs may have mobility issues due to: infections, prolonged inflammation, surgical interventions, trauma, allergic reactions, alterations to the nervous system, psychosomatic influences (stress levels…), loss of elasticity due to aging, etc.
Poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, musculoskeletal dysfunction or psycho-emotional problems can also affect the system in very important ways.
Osteopathy can be very effective in preventing: gastric reflux, hiatal hernias, digestive problems, flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation, recurring cystitis, prostatitis, gynecological disorders, etc.
The goal of osteopathy is to improve the mobility of the organs, their communication with the nervous system and to restore good circulation (arterial, venous and lymphatic), so as to fully activate the self-regulatory capacity of the body itself.
Cranial osteopathy is directed at the skull-sacral axis. Falls, direct impacts on the head or face, certain abrupt dental extractions, orthodontics, bruxism, all are factors that can cause blockage of the bones of the skull and affect the rest of the body in addition to producing headaches, migraines, occlusion problems, dizziness, cervical pain, digestive disorders, etc.
After an assessment to determine the origin, I will treat it in a very gentle and non-invasive way, taking into account the joints between the bones of the skull, the meninges, the central nervous system, the
Osteopathy and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, women’s bodies are subject to many postural changes to which they need to progressively adapt as gestation progresses.
If the adaptive capacity is overwhelmed, spinal pain, sciatica, headaches, urinary incontinence, visceral problems and also neuroendocrine changes that affect emotional states may occur.
Osteopathic treatment during this period allows for better adaptation to all these changes, a better quality of life for the future mother and her baby and an excellent way to prepare the woman’s body and pelvis for delivery.
During birth, babies may be subjected to enormous compressions. Babies’ heads are designed to support compression of the birth canal and their skulls have great flexibility that allows them to deform and accommodate supported modeling at birth.
The mechanical forces supported by the baby’s skull are not detrimental if the delivery progresses physiologically without complications. The resistance of the mother’s tissues help in modeling the skull. But when the delivery is too long and does not progress properly, or intervention with instruments is required, cranial compression can be significant.
It is very important to carry out an osteopathic review of the baby at birth, or as soon as possible. Untreated, the base of the skull, where the cranial nerves emerge, can cause digestive problems, difficulties with breastfeeding, colic, irritability, and later can affect the child’s development with visual disturbances, scoliosis, alterations in the dental occlusion and posture and problems of attention.
In a very gentile fashion, osteopathic treatment can provide maximum comfort while correcting the baby’s development.
Osteopathy is well indicated for athletes.
Athletes pushes their bodies to the limit by forcing their joints with repetitive movements and demanding the maximum of their muscles.
During sport, there are often sudden movements and traumas that can cause the body to misalign.
The demands placed on an athlete’s body can manifest with reactions of inflammation or contractions and therefore pain.
Mobility restrictions are often compensated by the body, overloading other areas. Thus, the area where the pain appears does not always coincide with the most blocked area.
I will make a global evaluation of the athlete’s body, taking into account postural imbalances, muscle dysfunction, lesion mechanisms and environmental influences.
The goal of treatment is to restore mobility of the joints and tissues (muscles, ligaments, viscera) to improve overall function.
Osteopathy can help athletes mainly in:
• Prevention and treatment of injuries (sprains, tendinitis, pinching, joint overload…)
• Enhancing energy: better mechanics, better functioning of physiology, more balance of the nervous system, better rest, improved global recovery and better performance
Osteopathy treats the body globally to obtain balance and promote self-regulation. Therefore, it can help in situations of general fatigue, stress, anxiety, light depression or discomfort, all things one might experience at one time or another in their lives.