Osteopathy, or Osteopathic Manual Therapy, is a patient centered form of gentle hands-on therapy that enhances the body's natural ability to heal itself.
Based on an extensive knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners apply their understanding of the relationship of one part of the body to all other parts.
Osteopathy can ease pain, reduce swelling and improve tissue mobility, which helps the body function better as a whole.
As a manual therapy, Osteopathy is a hands-on approach that utilizes a highly developed sense of touch. Osteopaths are able to assess and treat layers of superficial and deep connective tissues surrounding muscles, bones, joints, organs, blood vessels and nerves. In fact, every single cell is surrounded by connective tissue. This tissue forms an endless web through the body. If in structural misalignment, this tissue can cause functional problems in the body.
Osteopathy was discovered by an American physician by the name of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still (portrayed in the picture above) in the 1880s. After Dr. Still lost three of his children to Meningitis in Missouri in 1964, he became frustrated with the helplessness of traditional medicine. Dr. Still began looking for a new medical model – a safer, more effective way to treat patients. Dr. Still spent ten years studying health and disease based on studying human anatomy, developing the main concepts of osteopathy which are still used in modern osteopathy.
Over the next decades, Still founded the American School of Osteopathy and trained generations of osteopaths. Eventually, Osteopathy spread to Europe and was developed further (i.e. the cranial concept of Osteopathy was developed by Dr. William Sutherland in England).
Osteopathy has a difficult history in Canada. After the number of American trained osteopaths working in Canada declined from the 1920's to the 1960's, Osteopathy was basically fighting extinction. In the 1980's, a group of European manual (non-medical) Osteopaths under the leadership of Philippe Druelle opened an osteopathic college in Montreal (College d’Etudes Osteopathiques). It is due to the efforts of this group of European Osteopaths that Osteopathy found a new place to develop and flourish in North America.
Nowadays there are countless osteopathic schools in Canada - most of them teaching manual, traditional, non-medical osteopathy. Since the education is just as unregulated as the practice of Manual Osteopathy, the Manitoba Osteopathic Association has decided to take the World Health Organization's "Benchmarks of Training in Osteopathy" as standard to ensure quality control and a level of safety to the public.
Osteopathic Manual Practitioners use mainly five ways of treating your body:
(1) STRUCTURAL MANIPULATION
The arch of the foot, the spinal curves and the pelvic ring are designed to adapt to gravitational forces. Misalignments of these structures cause the body to compensate in many ways – this can lead to strain patterns and pain. Using gentle manipulations, we make sure that all structures are movable and aligned.
(2) MYOFASCIAL TREATMENT / UNWINDING
An Osteopathic Manual Practitioner uses myofascial techniques to relieve tension in muscles, tendons and ligaments. The enveloping fascia (=connective tissue) forms an interconnected system of support in the body.
(3) VISCERAL MANIPULATION
In order to be healthy, your organs need to move. Any restrictions in mobility will decrease an organ’s function. We believe this is one of the root causes of disease. Since your organs are, like your muscles, wrapped and held in place by an enveloping fascia, we can remove strains and restrictions and ensure that the organ can move freely and therefore be or become healthier.
(4) CRANIOSACRAL MANIPULATION
The craniosacral mechanism provides fluids to your brain and spinal cord and is composed of the bones of the skull, the vertebral canal and the sacrum (tailbone). We can mobilize this system to provide you with symptom relief, and a long and healthy life, and graceful aging.
(5) FLUID MOBILIZATION
The health of every single cell in your body depends on the movement of fluid. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners seek out blockages and help the body restore its flow of vital fluids.