What is Osteopathy

Osteopathy was founded in the 19th century by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still an American doctor. Dr. Still had a deep understanding of anatomy and the body. In 1864 he lost 3 of his own children in an outbreak of viral meningitis, this was a turning point for him as he began to question the standard medical practices of the day.

Dr. Still spent the rest of his life developing his own skills in restoring the body to heal, and the first school of osteopathy was set up in Kirksville, Kansas in 1892.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still said that “osteopathy is a scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology in the hands of a person of intelligence and skill, who can apply the knowledge to the use of man when sick or wounded by strains, shock, falls or mechanical derangement or injury of any kind to the body”.
Published in Philosophy & principles of Osteopathy, 1892.

Simply put, osteopaths see the Whole person, and believe that the body has whatever it needs with in itself to restore function and health. Sometimes the body needs some help to reach a place where the Health is accessible again, and this is where osteopathic treatment can help.

All osteopaths use these basic principles on all of their patients. Osteopaths have many tools that they are taught and develop over many years. These tools or techniques are what they use to aid the body’s’ return to health.

Over the years students of Dr. Still and others have furthered his legacy so that osteopaths have continued to have a deep understanding of the Nature of the human body and it’s relationship with Health.

Dr. William Garner Sutherland was a student of Dr. Still’s who first “discovered” the Involuntary Motion that cranial osteopaths can feel. Over the rest of his life he devoted himself to this avenue of Osteopathy.

What Techniques do osteopaths use?

Osteopaths use varied techniques depending on the patient and their own area of expertise, some of the common techniques are:

Structural Osteopathy

This is the common description given to the techniques used by many osteopaths, and it encompasses, articulation soft tissue or massage, stretching and manipulation.

Cranial & Biodynamic Osteopathy

Some osteopaths have developed through further training their palpation (feeling/touch) skills, so that they are able to feel within the body a sense of motion or subtle shape change that occurs- we call this Motion Present or Involuntary Motion. Cranial osteopaths utilise this Motion Present to help the body restore structure and therefore return to normal function.

Osteopaths practising Biodynamic Osteopathy believe that the forces that created us are still available to us throughout our lives – they encompass the forces of growth and development but also provide us with sustaining and restorative abilities.

The osteopath is able to work with these therapeutic restorative forces or the Blueprint to aid the body to return to a place of balance (homeostasis) and Health.

What does Cranial Osteopathic Treatment Feel Like?

Treatment is very gentle, people are often pleasantly surprised how gentle the treatment is, there is no clicking or cracking of joints. Most people find the treatment very relaxing and it is not uncommon for people to fall asleep.

Most people are aware of warmth and or tingling , and if they have come in to the treatment in pain or with other acute symptoms, they are aware of an easing.

Visceral osteopathy

Viscera is the name given to the internal organs of the abdomen and chest. Visceral osteopathy aims to improve the function of these organs by reducing tension and drag. Osteopaths can assess how freely the organs and associated tissues are moving and whether they may be creating pain or discomfort locally or further away. Tension in these visceral tissues can effecct how the musculo-skeletal system around them is able to work, this can be a hidden cause of neck, chest and back pain.