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One definition of Osteopathy is: "Osteopathy is a system of therapeutics which lays chief emphasis upon the diagnosis and treatment of structural and mechanical derangements of the body." (from the Osteopathic Blue Book, compiled by the UK Register of Osteopaths, 1956)

So this gives the scope of Osteopathy as being concerned with mechanical and structural conditions and pain, e.g. mechanical back pain, muscle imbalance, scoliosis or other structural asymmetries or anomalies. Yet there are other principles that should also be mentioned: the primary one is that be body is viewed as a unit and treated as a whole. If you like 'holistic' —as osteopathy is very much concerned with the relationship, or inter-relation between the parts, that comprise the whole. There is nothing necessarily esoteric about this: even mechanical back pain can often be a global phenomenon, e.g. a leg length difference, or pelvic torsion can set up uneven mechanical loading, resulting in back pain. Pain can also be referred (known as 'referred' pain) and a neck, shoulder, or upper back issue can refer pain down the arm. Low back pain can also travel down the leg, sometimes even to the foot.

Of course, sometimes a problem is more local: a specific strain, a rotator-cuff tear, or a torn meniscus is a local phenomena. But back and neck pain are often not quite like this —and the muscles and fascia traverse a large area, and optimal results often come from assessing and treating the entire body, the whole structural alignment and any altered global bio-mechanics.

So from a practical point of view, you may find an osteopathic treatment far more 'global' than perhaps a physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment —where the emphasis may be on one area (and perhaps only that one area.)

So, to summarise: Osteopathy treats the body as a whole. We can also say, as for technique, that Osteopathy is a hands-on treatment that involves soft-tissue release, cranial-sacral (cranial osteopathy) techniques, articulation and gentle manipulation of the spine and its extremities to improve alignment and posture and allow the body to return to good health.

Osteopathy treats a range of health issues including acute pain from injury and trauma, and chronic pain from occupational stress and repetitive strains. Of course, Osteopathy can also be particularly helpful for back pain, and also pain in the neck and shoulders.

Other conditions, such as headaches, migraine and jaw pain (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) may all have a structural component.  The causes of headaches, migraines, or jaw pain can be multifactoral — yet one of the most common factors can be tension in the muscles of the upper neck. 

Osteopathic treatment may be able to gently and effectively release and ease muscle tension in the neck, as well as other areas, such as the shoulders and upper back.  Osteopathy and osteopathic soft tissue treatment and gentle manipulation may also be able to relieve a lot of neck and back muscular tension, as manipulation can often bring the result of a reflex muscular relaxation in the muscles supplied from the nerves from that spinal segment.

I may also be able to give postural advice  (setting up your workstation correctly) and simple exercises to help with muscle pain in the neck, shoulder, and upper back.

Osteopathy may be able to help with painful clicking in the jaw (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) often after dental treatment.

Suggested Resources:

Find an Osteopath in Australia

Find an Osteopath in the UK



christchurch   osteopathy   acupuncture

mike inman   osteopath


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