Osteopathy is a "whole body" system of manual therapy, based on unique biomechanical principles, which uses a wide range of techniques to treat musculo-skeletal problems and other functional disorders of the body. It was developed in America in the 1870’s by a Missouri Doctor, Andrew Taylor Still, and has developed to the point where it is now widely recognised throughout the world as one of the most scientifically validated and effective "complementary" therapies.
The World Health Organisation recognises the Osteopathic concept of somatic dysfunction as being scientifically proven, and the British Medical Association also recognises Osteopathy as a discrete medical discipline. In Australia, Osteopaths are statutorily registered practitioners and five year, full-time university training is available, which covers anatomy, physiology, pathology and general medical diagnosis in addition to Osteopathic technique. Osteopaths are primary care practitioners, and are trained to be able to recognise conditions which require medical referral. They are also trained to carry out standard medical examinations of the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous system.
What conditions do Osteopaths deal with?
Osteopathy is best known for the treatment of a wide variety of musculo-skeletal problems, but it also has a role to play in the management of a number of other conditions. The most common complaints for which patients consult Osteopaths include:
• back and neck pain,
• pains in peripheral joints such as shoulders, knees and ankles, tendinitis and muscle strains,
• work-related and repetitive strain injuries, and
• sports-related injuries.
However, Osteopathy can also play a significant role in pain management in arthritic conditions, and when used in conjunction with medical treatment, can be of value in reducing the severity of symptoms in conditions such as asthma, gynaecological dysfunction and chronic fatigue. Many mothers-to-be find Osteopathic treatment very beneficial both to reduce back pain during pregnancy and also to help prepare the body for birth. In addition, there is a wide variety of gentle non-manipulative techniques for use on infants and small children. These can be used in the management of problems such as forceps trauma, infant colic and "glue ear."