WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY?
Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy based on philosophy and principles that allow practitioners to use a method of diagnosis and treatment through using their hands. We take into consideration the health and vitality of the whole person using the premiss that no body part, or system of the body, works in isolation.
The practice of osteopathy is based on four fundamental principles that guide osteopathic reasoning and diagnosis towards a natural health-oriented, patient-centred approach to healthcare. These principles are:
- The human being functions as a whole; nothing works in isolation
- The body has its own inherent self-regulatory mechanisms to self-heal.
- The structure and function (anatomy and physiology) of the body are interconnected and interrelated on every level
- The treatment of the patient is based on the above three principles.
As an Osteopath, we are focused on maintaining homeostasis of all systems, promoting normal circulation of blood and lymph throughout the body. This funnels nutrition to all bodily tissues and enables the drainage of metabolic waste from those same tissues. Collectively, this maintains a healthy, functioning nervous system.
The core of Osteopathy is the recognition of the body’s innate ability to heal itself when blockages are removed.
HOW DID OSTEOPATHY BEGIN?
Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) pioneered Osteopathy on June 22, 1874, USA. Around the age of 10, he discovered his ability to ease his headaches when he made a low swing from a rope in which to rest his neck, whilst falling asleep. When he awoke his headache was gone.
He became a doctor, practicing allopathic medicine, but renounced his title after meningitis took the lives of his three children. A forth child died of pneumonia after orthodox medicine was unable to help. Already knowledgeable in the body’s systems, Still developed a systematic model of diagnosing and treating people using his hands (Osteopathic manual medicine). His methods focused on normalising the connection between the structure and function of the body, assisting with the body’s inherent mechanism for healing. In conjunction with this, his practice centred on the importance of the patient’s health and well being with regards to mind, body and spirit.
He dissected many cadavers in order to understand which structures would be affected during adjustment. Through constant practice, critical analysis, and continuous study, in conjunction with treating living people, he was able determined that a healthy state remained in the body as long as there was normal circulation of body fluids (arterial, venous, cerebral spinal fluids and lymph) and nerve activity; otherwise disease manifested.
If you would like to read more about the history of osteopathy I highly recommend a great book written by John Lewis who spent 15 years researching Osteopathic history. You can order it from his website: