Manual Osteopathy

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Osteopaths believe that the body has all it needs to maintain a good functioning state and to heal itself when required and that all body systems are interrelated and dependent on one another. We think of each patient as a whole, in its entirety; including, bones, muscles, nerves, organs, fluids, where by, each body tissue is connected and can affect one another. Have you even been in a session and find yourself wondering why your Osteopathic Practitioner is also looking at your ankle when you were just coming in for headaches? Here’s why – a sprained ankle may be responsible for your headaches due to your body’s own interrelationships and adaptations. Of course it is never cut and dry, and rarely with one sole reason, so here’s couple examples:

1) The ankle injury can change the way the joints of the foot and ankle glide and move – and just me, there are a lot of joints in the ankle/foot! This change in mobility will impact how well neighboring joints glide and move and subsequently, their neighboring joints. Pretty soon an ankle bone that isn’t moving well is now impacting the knee, the hip, the pelvic, and the spine; including, the neck and the base of the cranium/skull – a very common origin for tension headaches.

2) One of the most common ways an ankle is sprained is rolling on the outside. This pattern will modify the tone in your muscles, pull and create downward tension in your fascia and secondarily affect other structures that are linked and connected to these systems. For example…your lateral fascial chain is connected from the outside of your foot/ankle and travels all the way up to the outside of you cranium/skull and your ear – passing and connecting all the anatomical structures in between, such as, your knee, hip and pelvis. As this downward pull reaches your cranium/skull it pulls the bones that are connected to the deep membranes inside the cranium, creating tension and causing a headache.

Overall, we are not only treating symptoms; our belief is that we want to look for the root cause, the one that is at the origin of the issue (causing the problem). In many instances this can be in a different area from the one that is actually hurting; the idea is to not just treat your symptoms in isolation, rather treat your symptoms, as well as, identifying and treating the cause(s). This approach will be more successful in resolving the issue completely so you won’t have to keep coming back again and again for the same treatment.

The Techniques

During our training, we learn a lot of various techniques to be able to adequately respond to your needs. It enables us to have large range of tools we can use to best match what your body is expecting; this is dependent on your tissues, on the issue(s) you are coming for and what kind of treatment you are more comfortable with.

Of course we can use the well-known adjustment technique if we have to, but it’s very rare and we are mainly and more likely to use gentle techniques, with a lower-velocity and more in harmony with your body. Often your Osteopathic Practitioner will have a gentle touch, feeling and investigating the tissues superficially but also deep within the body – we call this “dialoging” with your body. Osteopathic Practitioners have the capacity to detect specific qualities in your tissues, such as, tension, stiffness, resilience, hydration, congestion or lack of circulation, position and mobility. The ability to detect very small changes in tissue health is our way of assessing, detecting and establishing priority in your treatment plan.

We work on all kinds and layers of body tissue; bones, of course, but also muscles, ligaments, fascia, nerves, organs and even fluids. Think of your body like a sliced tree trunk, exposing all the life layers of the tree. Simply put – that is your body…our goal is to address and tackle issue(s) or restriction(s) in each of those layers; one blocked layer will impact the layers that are under, on-top and even neighbouring (local or far). Here’s an example – if you are coming in with back pain, yes an Osteopathic Practitioner is interested in correcting a vertebrae that may be out of alignment, but we are also concerned with investigating and normalizing the fascial elements preceding the boney layer, as well as, the membranous or “dural” and vascular layer that lies deeper than and within the spinal column. Make sense?

Osteopathic Manual Practitioner Vs Other Forms of Treatment

“What is the difference between Osteopathy and say, physiotherapy or chiropractor treatments”? This is probably one of the most common questions we’re being asked by patients and it’s important to offer some clarity to distinguish differences. Although we are not physiotherapist or chiropractors, and cannot comment specially on their therapeutic methods, we will try to discern possible differences by discussing our philosophy and treatment style.

Philosophy – As mentioned earlier Osteopaths believe that a problem can result from anywhere in the body. If you have pain, this will change the way you move, the way you function, thus affecting not only the place where the pain is felt but also elsewhere because of adaptations. Simple put – Osteopaths tend to look a little more globally.

Treatment – Osteopathic Manual Practice treatment is a holistic, global treatment, often about 45 to 60 minutes. As we already talked about Osteopathic Manual Practice techniques above, I’ll just add we believe that by working on soft tissues before adjusting a joint for example, it will be less aggressive with less overtreatment reaction.

The point here is not to say whether or not a therapy is better than the other, what really matters is that you find a therapy you are comfortable with, and more importantly a practitioner you trust. When it comes to the patient’s interest, working together is always the best option and often involves complimentary modalities.

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