What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a manner of evaluating, treating a person to prevent a wide range of health problems.  It is medicine, or more accurately, the art and science of manual treatment whose aim is to reposition the bones, muscles, organs, viscera, glands, i.e., to give them the freedom to function better.  The principle of osteopathy is that the wellbeing of an individual relies on the way that bones, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and internal structures work with each other.

A.T. Still, the founder of osteopathy once said, “Structure governs function”, which means whenever a part of the body is free to move, it can function correctly.

What does Osteophathy apply to?

The fields of application are numerous including joint pain, back pain, headaches, hiatus hernia, followed by pregnant women, newborn, baby, children, heart rhythm disorders, followed by sports, etc. It is impossible to list them all.

Patients have also found osteopathy treatments helpful for conditions such as digestive issues, circulatory problems, neuralgia and problems sleeping.

Patients include the children, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, and professional sports athletes.

What is the line between Medicine and Osteopathy?

It is very important to note that Medicine and Osteopathy are not rivals.

  • Medicine provides a medical diagnosis for which medical semiology is studied
  • Osteopaths diagnose by elimination, so that if necessary they can direct the patient to a medical doctor; they can do this because they have studied semiology from an Osteopathic standpoint. An Osteopath will diagnose from this perspective in order to treat the patient.

The medical doctor and the osteopath intervene at different stages of an illness.

Osteopaths play a major preventative role: They treat numerous ailments before they become irreversible; they may prepare the patient for certain interventions; they treat some ailments which doctors do not deal with.

Medical doctors treat that which is irreversible, offer drugs, surgery, etc

The medical doctor and the osteopath operate independently; however, they are increasingly cooperating in the healing process.

Does Osteopathy only treat bones?

No. The name chosen by A. T. Still is unfortunate. For example, a urinary infection may need to be treated by reversing a torsion of the bladder, which may itself be twisted because of how it is supported by the pelvic bones. Correcting the pelvic torsion and the ligaments which attach the bladder to the pelvis may be sufficient treatment.

So, Osteopathy is not only curative?

No. Coping with daily life in today’s society puts constant stress on the body. The equilibrium of many of our orthopedic and visceral articulations is compromised. Before an organ or a bone becomes completely unbalanced and its function compromised (sickness), the Osteopath corrects (normalizes) the lesion.

Is Osteopathy effective with athletes?

Yes. With respect to maintenance in order to normalize a part of the body and help develop it in the way the sport requires.

Yes. With respect to emergency therapy as in replacing an articular subluxation, for example.

Are exercises part of Osteopathic therapy?

Yes. Osteopathic philosophy supports the idea that the body possesses all the potential necessary for self-normalization. The Osteopath DO will use techniques to correct lesions and will teach the patient a few very specific and appropriate exercises necessary to maintain the corrections. These exercises (ELDOA, MS, etc.) will be very efficient and will never take more than five minutes a day.

Can children be treated through Osteopathy?

Yes. As soon as a child is born, and especially during the baby’s first few months, the Osteopath can guide the growth and development of bones, viscera, articulations, etc. to ensure they function effectively in the future. In fact, what is easy to treat during the first few years of life becomes more difficult to correct later on.

Does Osteopathy treat visceral problems?

Yes. For example, the pericardium is a membrane which surrounds the heart and serves to support and keep it in place while it beats. This pericardium attaches to the cervical and thoracic vertebrae, sternum, esophagus and thoracic diaphragm. The Osteopath DO would take care to begin by treating the fixed point or points which are in lesion and then proceed to normalize the pericardium tension and help it recover normal equilibrium. “Structure governs function”. It is the same for all the viscera.

What is the difference between mobility and motility?

Aristotle wrote, “Movement is life”.

Each organ, viscera, articulation, etc. is attached and articulates in relation to a bone and/or another viscera for support and in order to function (stomach digestion, thyroid or pancreatic secretion, the compression and expansion of a lung, etc.) This is mobility.

Each organ, viscera, articulation, etc. is in continuous intrinsic movement,i.e., in relation to itself within the human body. This is motility.

The Osteopath DO’s concern is to unblock the ligaments or fasciae which support the organ, viscera, articulation, etc. in order to restore mobility and then normalize the intrinsic motility of these parts of the body.

What is the Primary Respiratory Mechanism?

The PRM (Primary Respiratory Mechanism) is the intrinsic movement of a bone, organ, viscera or gland. This movement occurs as a result of the histologic movement of an organ’s fluids. There is an embryological predetermination to this system. For over a century, physiology and histology have demonstrated how it works. The osteopath DO is interested in normalizing these fluid movements so that the system “breathes correctly”, i.e., moves and functions correctly.

Why do we speak of Osteopathy as a science and an art?

It is a science because it rests on developed studies of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and semiology.

It is an art because Osteophath DOs must be able to feel (in osteopathic language we speak of listening) with their hands all the responses to diagnostic tests. They should interpret tensions before normalizing them.

In order to be more effective, their manual therapeutic work should be constantly modulating between the quantity and quality of their touch.

Does an Osteopath DO prescribe drugs?

No. It is exclusively manual therapy.

Can Osteopathy help manage stress?

Yes. Stress is an expression of neuro-hormonal imbalance. The Osteopath can normalize, i.e., inhibit or stimulate, the sympathetic nervous system and balance the hormonal chains. Then situations of anguish, panic, aggressively and/or depression, for example, can be alleviated or even eliminated as the patient’s body becomes capable of absorbing and managing this state.

How does one recognize a good Osteopath?

That is a difficult question. Osteopathy is a science and an art. It is easier to determine from a scientific point of view if he/she is potentially good, since it takes at least six years of specific study and certification after clinical, practical, and theory examinations as well as the presentation of an essay or thesis.

If it is easy to evaluate the experience of the artist, it is impossible to determine the level of innate or acquired gift.

Is there standard training in Osteopathic schools?

No, unfortunately.

Certain schools see only the scientific aspect of acquiring knowledge and in how they are organized. Perhaps this develops osteopathic medicine but not osteopathy. Let’s leave medical osteopathy to the faculties of medicine and respect the philosophy of osteopathy, i.e., looking at the interactivity of tissues, articulations, glands, viscera and organs as a whole.

Other schools think only of manual therapy as an art and indulge in constant questioning which leads to more or less esoteric answers.

Where to find the perfect balance? The Sutherland Academies of Osteopathy are certainly the best solution to date. Unencumbered by pseudo-medical notions and free of any esoterism, they teach first and foremost the art of healing with the hands based on the mastery of the most pertinent knowledge.

Is there a professional association or a directory of osteopaths?

There are many directories. All schools have their own directory. The goal of all osteopathic directories is to protect the patient and, to this end, offer a code of ethics. Unfortunately, many of these directories are nothing but the direct or indirect product of a particular school. Therefore, it is difficult as judge and jury to trust the objectivity of such directories.

For example, The FERO (Federal European Register of Osteopaths), is a federation of directories honest enough not to include any school proprietors on its board of directors.

How long does and osteopathic treatment last?

This depends on the case and on the therapist.

But to perform an anamnesis and correct assessment, to conscientiously apply all the correct and necessary techniques, it is impossible to treat in less than a half hour. On the other hand, the body will reject being manipulated and mobilized for more than 90 minutes.

The appropriate length of treatment seems to be around an hour, perhaps a little less with an expert and a little more with a beginner. In any case, the length of treatment must be adapted to the patient.

What is cranial osteopathy?

W. G. Sutherland discovered the intrinsic movements of the cranial membranes, proving there were micro-movements of the cranial bones. The biomechanics of the hundreds of cranial articulations are coherent. The consequences on the sensory organs, cranial nerves and various parts of the brain are obvious. With this in mind, cranial work on babies and children whose cranial bones are still forming should be a priority. However, cranial osteopathy is only useful when it is part of osteopathic therapeutic methodology.

Are there cranial osteopaths, visceral osteopaths, fascial osteopaths, etc.?

No. Osteopathy includes everything

Osteopath DOs must equally master fascia work, mobilization of the cranial bones and visceral treatment. Then they may specialize not in a technique but in a certain therapeutic orientation such as athletes, children, pregnant women, etc.

How many sessions are necessary for osteopathic treatment?

There is no perfect answer. Several daily sessions over several weeks doesn’t make sense. Nevertheless, certain cases may require several consecutive treatments but only for a short period of time.

The osteopathic philosophy requires that a patient’s body have the time to normalize itself.

Is Osteopathy always enough?

No. Osteopathy is one element in a variety of therapies. An osteopath could never replace a dentist, surgeon, medical doctor or psychiatrist. Competent Osteopath DOs must recognize their limitations and direct patients to another therapist if necessary.