Osteopathy in Practice
Osteopathic practitioners use their understanding of the relationship between structure and function to optimize the body’s self-regulating, self-healing capabilities. This holistic approach to patient care and healing is based on the concept that a human being is a dynamic functional unit, in which all parts are interrelated and which possesses its own self-regulatory and self-healing mechanisms. One essential component of osteopathic health care is osteopathic manual therapy, typically called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which refers to an array of manipulative techniques that may be combined with other treatments or advice, for example on diet, physical activity and posture, or counseling.
Structural diagnosis and osteopathic manipulative treatment are essential components of osteopathy. The practical application of this approach is based on several structure-function relationships. Osteopathic practitioners use these to gather and structure diagnostic information and to interpret the significance of neuro-musculoskeletal findings for the overall health of the patient. Osteopathy is thus not limited to the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal problems, nor does it emphasize joint alignment and radiographic evidence of structural relationships. Osteopathy is more concerned with the manner in which the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system are integrated with and support the entire body physiology.
Although manual techniques are used by various manipulative therapy professions, the unique manner in which osteopathic manipulative techniques are integrated into patient management, as well as the duration, frequency and choice of technique, are distinctive aspects of osteopathy. Osteopathic manipulative treatment employs many types of manipulative techniques, including spinal thrust and impulse techniques, as well as gentle techniques. (2-3)
Osteopathy is a philosophy of health care and distinctive art, supported by expanding scientific knowledge; its philosophy embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology). Its art is the application of the philosophy in the practice of medicine and all its branches and specialties. Its science includes the behavioral, chemical, physical, spiritual and biological knowledge related to the establishment and maintenance of health as well as the prevention and alleviation of disease.
Osteopathic concepts emphasize the following principles:
1. The human being is a dynamic unit of function;
2. The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms;
3. Structure and function are interrelated at all levels;
4. Rational treatment is based on these principles. (1)
Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917)
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