What is Osteopathy?
Now there is a question I have often be asked.
This reminded me of when I started studying osteopathy as we had a lecture where we were asked just this. We came up with our final description as a class, including words such as holistic, anatomical, health and function only to be told that according to the dictionary the definition was "what an osteopath does".
Skipping ahead, I have just looked online at the Cambridge English Dictionary and I am disappointed to reveal that today the description is "The treatment of injuries to bones and muscles using pressure and movement".
I think had an osteopath written the explanation, they would simply have said "It depends"!
I was not comfortable with answers such as "it depends" when I began studying. I thought it was a lazy answer. It was only as I began seeing patients in the clinic that I realised that when dealing with real life patients with their differing presentations that there are so many variables.
It really does depend on many things including lifestyle, past and present injuries and illnesses, how they were dealt with or managed, their beliefs about injury and pain and their personal circumstances.
This, I believe, is where osteopathy is at its best.
As an osteopath we have the necessary skills to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions but also have the knowledge to know when to refer to other healthcare professions.
We look at the structure and function of the body and osteopathy is based on the principle that the health of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.
An osteopath will endeavour to return a state of balance to the body, preferably without medical intervention using a wide variety of techniques.
"The body is its own medicine chest" - AT Still