Osteopathy facilitates the task of mechanisms of conservation and self-healing of the organism through management and optimization of the functioning of the musculoskeletal system using basically manual techniques.
Osteopathy considers the human body as a whole in which all its components (bones, tissues, nerves, vessels, etc.) are constantly and closely related.
It is based on the principle of the unity of structure and function of the body and sustains that illness alters this unity and in order to find the cure we need to repair the function in order to stimulate the self-healing mechanisms of the body.
It concentrates its attention on the patient and not on the illness, and considers that the person is, on the whole, a product of a genetic inheritance modelled by personal history (postural habits, motion patterns, traumas, as well as mental and emotional changes).
An osteopathic clinical examination differs from a traditional medical examination as, apart from the interview, physical exploration and complementary tests, it includes global postural assessment, both static and dynamic, physical exploration that aims to detect structural and functional alterations in the musculoskeletal system that represent an osteopathic injury or a somatic dysfunction.
Prior to prescribing a treatment, it is necessary to make a diagnosis and discard pathologies that require the use of other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy, among others. This makes it necessary for the therapist to have the modern and updated medical training provided by the University Faculties of Medicine.
For the treatment of these dysfunctions, different manual techniques are used, such as those for soft tissue treatment, those for muscle treatment (stretching, shortening, direct pressure, etc.) and joint mobilisation (direct, indirect, etc.), some of them popularly known as "cracking your bones". Not only does osteopathic manual treatment not exclude other medical-surgical treatments, such as anti-inflammatory or sedative drugs, physiotherapy or immobilisation, etc., on the contrary, it is often combined with them, often improving effectiveness.
We could say that the indications of osteopathy are all those pathological states where we find an osteopathic injury. The contraindications are not osteopathic but refer to different techniques used, which must be adapted to each case and circumstance. In an elderly patient, with osteoporosis and cervical problems, we will not do a high-speed manipulation but a mild muscular treatment, and in an inflammatory periarthritis we will not make a direct muscular treatment, but a mild soft tissue technique.
One of the characteristics of this medical specialty not yet recognised in Spain (though already recognised in France, United Kingdom, Germany, etc.) is that the treatment is not limited to the painful part but extends to the entire musculoskeletal system, with special interest for the adjacent and distance joints. (Treating the cervicals in the case of lower back pain, the ankle for knee problems, etc.). This does not only improve directly the specific problem for which the patient makes the consultation, but we also treat, if not its cause, the mechanism that has caused or aggravated the injury to make it symptomatic.
In practice, patients of all ages go to the osteopathic doctor mostly to treat the disorders of the musculoskeletal apparatus, whether primary or secondary to traumatisms: spinal pains (neck pain, back pain, LBP), joint pain in upper and lower limbs (wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, etc.), neuralgia (cervicobrachial, sciatica, carpal tunnel, etc.). Generally, the treatments should be repeated several times at intervals ranging from fifteen days to two or three months and the improvement in the symptoms usually appears from the first session, depending on the intensity and chronicity of the injury. Unfortunately, a small percentage of patients either do not respond to treatment or find that it does not meet their healing expectations. Most are satisfied and enjoy an improvement in body comfort and, in the medium and long term, an improvement of the functioning of the musculoskeletal system that results in an increase in the sense of wellbeing and quality of life.
Osteopathic exploration detects some somatic dysfunctions before they manifest themselves clinically in the form of pain, and we can often treat them quickly and successfully, avoiding their becoming chronical through a series of compensation procedures that would overstrain an organism in constant movement, causing joint wear and an onset of osteoarthritis.
Let us see, then, how this medicine that has its roots in the origins of the art of healing has crossed history to this day, enriching itself with the experience and integrating into the modern medicine of the third millennium as a set of non-invasive techniques that allow us to prevent and treat very common pathologies in our society in an ecological and sustainable way.
(This text was written by our friend and colleague Dr Nandu Muñoz Bonet, Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), holder of a degree in Osteopathy by the French School of Osteopathy and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris who practiced medicine and osteopathy in L’Escala – Girona, with him, we’d shared good times and a passion for osteopathy, he left us prematurely in December 2018 , and will always remain in our memories.)
MORE INFORMATION ON OSTEOPATHY:
- Site web du Syndicat National des Medecins Osteopathes (in French)
- Article molt complet a Wikipedia (in English)