Osteopathic treatment is non-invasive and patient-centric to facilitate ease of movement of, and integration between, the tissues of the body. They do this largely through helping patients to be free from inappropriate physical restrictions and tension patterns within the “whole body system”. Osteopaths and the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines these restrictions and tension patterns as Somatic Dysfunction, that is, the impaired or altered function of the body framework and all it's associated parts including muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue and organs.
This means treating patients as individuals first, before seeing them as members of a disease/injury classification. Osteopathy incorporates a holistic approach whereby the entire body is examined, and not just the area of pain/dysfunction in order to understand what the patient’s system is doing to heal itself, and what can be done to facilitate this. It also aims to aid in dealing with the complex interplay of all of the patient’s tissues, systems, and broader environment, rather than overly emphasising one specific part or aspect.
Osteopaths are unique in that they use a variety of hands on techniques. This means that techniques are chosen specifically for the needs of each individual depending on their complaint and preference of treatment methods. The expansive range of hands-on techniques means that it is safe and gentle enough for everyone from a newborn baby through to the elderly. These may include, but are not limited to:
Which might include thrusting techniques (e,g the audible manipulation of joints using a high-velocity but low-amplitude thrust)
Gentle mobilizations of the joints of the body, which may be rhythmic/repetitive
Application of low-load, long- duration manual force applied to muscles and fascia.
Muscle Energy technique (MET)
A range of techniques using active patient cooperation of either concentric, isometric or eccentric muscle contraction aimed at improving the range of motion of joints.
Locating specific tender points, then placing the body in a position of maximum ease around that point. This affects the messages the nerves send to the central nervous system: both (pain signals) and signals indicating relative positioning of different parts of the body.
Lymphatic manipulative techniques
Three broad sets of techniques for improving the functioning of the lymphatic system: locating and unblocking points of resistence; gently moving the superficial lymph; and stimulating the lymph through pumping actions.
Cranial and biodynamic osteopathy
“Cranial” techniques are so-called because they were initially used to treat the cranium or head. They involve working with the subtle involuntary movements and rhythms of the body. They are now used to facilitate ease of movement of, and integration between tissues anywhere in the body.
These aren’t so much techniques in themselves, as a range of osteopathic techniques applied to the organs of the body.