Modality Highlight: Osteopathy

Modality Highlight: Osteopathy

An Osteopath doesn’t just treat a painful back or knee, but the body as a whole, addressing the underlying causes or biomechanics and preventing re-occurrence. This modality assists the body with pain minimisation, reduced stress and greater mobility to support the body as a functioning system with the ability to heal itself.

What is the difference between Osteopathy and Chiropractic treatment?

The Origin

A traditional “hands-on” diagnostic and therapeutic science, Osteopathy was pioneered in the late 1800s by a medical doctor named Andrew Taylor Still who famously said, "An osteopath is only a human engineer, who should understand all the laws governing his engine and thereby master disease."

The Philosophy

Osteopathy and chiropractic share a common philosophy about the importance of the integrity of the spine in ensuring good health. In fact, this philosophy is shared by almost all traditional healing arts as well as martial arts, including yoga, taiqi (tai chi), aikido and many others. It is also found in many treatment modalities in modern complementary and alternative medicine, including Structural Integration or Rolfing®, and Alexander Technique.

The Treatment Objective

The primary treatment objective of both osteopathy and chiropractic is to remove bodily aches and pain. Osteopaths often seek also to treat functional disorders such as disorders of the respiratory or digestive systems. Some chiropractors, called "therapeutic chiropractors” might do that as well while others, called “straight chiropractors” concern themselves solely with aches and pain.

The Medical Recognition

In many countries, such as the US, UK, NZ, and Australia, osteopaths are trained and recognized as primary care physicians and they see and treat patients just as ordinary doctors do. In the US, osteopaths are also trained in surgery and there are about 20 osteopathy hospitals offering the full range of health care.

The Diagnosis

Osteopaths and chiropractors are both able to perform diagnosis by visual inspection and palpation (feeling by hand). However, chiropractors usually also rely on x-rays for diagnosis. Osteopaths do not order to have x-rays unless they are clinically indicated. This minimizes a person's exposure to radiation.

The Treatment Techniques

Chiropractors employ a range of techniques for manipulating the spine, whereas osteopaths employ a wider range of techniques overall. Apart from manipulation, osteopaths use other techniques such as stretching, mobilization and cranial-sacral therapy. Cranio-sacral therapy or cranial osteopathy involves very subtle and gentle adjustments without any “clicking” of the joints. Cranial osteopathy is particularly beneficial for newborns and infants. Some osteopaths are also trained in 'dry needling', a simplified form of acupuncutre.  These techniques are seldom used by chiropractors. Another difference is that osteopaths do not “click back” a joint the way chiropractors do.

The Treatment Duration / Frequency

Each case requires individual consideration; however, it is generally the case that osteopaths spend longer time with each patient. In addition, osteopathic patients generally require less frequent treatments, and their treatments are spaced out over a longer period of time, rather than once or twice weekly. 

Further Information

Follow the links to learn more about osteopathy in generalinfant & children's osteopathy, and women's health osteopathy

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