What Is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is an established, recognized system of primary healthcare (diagnosis and treatment) that lays its main emphasis on the structural integrity of the body. Osteopathy is complementary to orthodox medicine. It is distinctive in the fact that it recognizes that much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure, as well as from damage caused to it by disease and injury.
Osteopathy was founded by Andrew Taylor Still in the late 1800’s. He became dis-illusioned with orthodox medicine as it was practiced at that time and looked for a more effective means of treating people’s ailments. He observed that the structure of the physical body influenced peoples function and their self-healing abilities, that the body acts as a unit of body, mind and spirit and that healing requires uninterrupted blood and nerve supply. He developed hands on treatment techniques to treat the physical body using these principles and thus improve people’s health
Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint, and the manual methods of treatment used, tailored to suit the needs of the individual patient. Osteopaths are skilled at discovering underlying causes of pain. They are trained to have a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology and use their hands to examine and treat.
The name osteopathy with the word ‘osteo’ meaning bone is a little misleading as osteopaths treat more than just bones. They also treat soft tissues such as ligaments and muscles and by doing so they can influence the blood, lymphatic and nerve systems of the body.
What Conditions Do Osteopaths Treat?
- Back, neck and rib pain.
- Nerve pain (e.g. Sciatica)
- Pain in the shoulder, arm and hand.
- Pain in the hip, knee, ankle or foot.
- Sports injuries
- Occupational strains
- Headaches, Migraine.
- Respiratory problems
- Whiplash injuries
- Pain and movement restriction due to osteo-arthritis
- Problems related to spinal curvatures
- Muscle and ligament strains
What Is Cranial Osteopathy?
Cranial Osteopathy is a gentle hands-on treatment appropriate for children and babies as well as adults.
There is a small movement that can be felt in the bones in the head and that can also be felt throughout all the tissues in the body. This movement is known as the Primary Respiratory Mechanism. It can be felt as a contraction and expansion movement. This phenomenon was discovered by Dr Sutherland in the early 1900’s.
The Primary Respiratory Mechanism has 5 basic components:
1. The inherent rhythmic motion of the brain and spinal cord
2. The fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid(CSF) that bathes and nourishes the brain and spinal cord
3. The shifting tensions of the Dura Mater (the membranous envelope that surrounds the brain and spinal cord). This entire membranous structure acts as a unit and is called a ‘Reciprocal Tension Membrane’.
4. The inherent movement of the cranial bones
5. The involuntary motion of the sacrum (tailbone)between the Ilia(pelvis)
This motion actually expresses itself through every cell of the body influencing all body functions.
Trauma such as a fall, knock to the head or a difficult birth can affect this normal movement and affect a person’s health.
By working directly on this movement we can bring about change and improve a person’s mobility and health.
Very specific skilled light pressure is applied where necessary to assist with the natural ability of the body to release stresses and strains.
Cranial Osteopathy Is Often Useful For Treating:
Babies And Young Children
- Babies that cry for no apparent reason
- Babies who suffer from colic, reflux or excessive wind
- Babies who have difficulty turning their head to feed or latch on to the breast
- Babies whose head stays to one side when lying down
- Young children with recurrent infections especially the ear
- Young children with growing pains
- Young children with asthma
- Young children with behavioural problems
A new born baby will often let you know if there is a problem by being unsettled, irritable or not sleeping properly.
It may have been as a result of a difficult or traumatic birth especially if forceps or ventouse was used. Normally a baby’s head may take a couple of days to return to its normal shape after its passage through the birth canal but sometimes this does not happen and you are left with an unsettled baby.
Most babies usually respond well to treatment and after a couple of sessions we end up with a contented baby (and usually parents too). After treatment you may notice that the baby is sleepy this is quite normal as the baby is in a relaxed state.
- Migraines and headaches
- Trauma such as whiplash injuries
- Problems arising from tooth extraction
- Head injuries