What is it Osteopathy?

Osteopathy (from Greek ὀστέον, “bone” and -πάθεια, “disease of”) is a type of complementary and alternative medicine. It is an alternative medical approach emphasizing the physical manipulation of the muscle tissue and bones.

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT in the U.S. or simply “osteopathic treatment” elsewhere) is the therapeutic application of manually guided forces by a practitioner, intended to improve physiologic function and/or support homeostasis that has been altered by somatic dysfunction. Somatic dysfunction is defined as impaired or altered function of related components of the somatic (body framework) system: skeletal, arthrodial and myofascial structures and their related vascular, lymphatic and neural elements. Acute somatic dysfunction is an immediate or short-term impairment or altered function of related components of the somatic (body) framework. It is characterized in early stages by vasodilation, oedema, tenderness, pain, and tissue contraction. It is diagnosed by history and palpatory assessment of tenderness, asymmetry of motion and relative position, restriction of motion and tissue texture change. Chronic somatic dysfunction is the impairment or altered function of related components of the somatic (body framework) system. It may be characterized by tenderness, itching, fibrosis, paresthesias, and tissue contraction.

While there are many treatment techniques, OMT methods utilized may broadly be classified as active or passive and direct or indirect in nature.

  • Active Method: A technique in which the person voluntarily performs an osteopathic practitioner-directed motion.
  • Passive Method: Based on techniques in which the patient refrains from voluntary muscle contraction.
  • Direct Method (D/DIR): An osteopathic treatment strategy by which the restrictive barrier is engaged and a final activating force is applied to correct somatic dysfunction.
  • Indirect Method (I/IND): A manipulative technique where the restrictive barrier is disengaged and the dysfunctional body part is moved away from the restrictive barrier until tissue tension is equal in one or all planes and directions

Different techniques will be used depending on the somatic dysfunction/s present as well as different attributes of the individual being treated. Techniques include:

  • Muscle Energy
  • Counterstrain/Strain-Counterstrain
  • High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude
  • Myofascial Release
  • Lymphatic Pump
  • Ligamentous Articular Strain/Balance Ligamentous Tension
  • Craniosacral
  • Articulatory/Still’s Technique
  • Facilitated Positional Release