Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy in which the body is seen as a unit that comprises the physical body, the mind and the spirit. An osteopathic treatment aims to restore function by treating the causes of pain and imbalance. In osteopathic philosophy the interrelationship between the structure and function is emphasized, as is the belief in the body’s self-healing mechanism.
Palpation, the process of using one’s hands to examine, is one of osteopaths’ most valuable tools. Osteopathy is a patient oriented approach in which the osteopath aspires to find the cause instead of merely treating the symptoms. The treatment is gentle and suitable for people of all ages.
Osteopathy can be of benefit to the following conditions:
Generalised aches and pains (back, neck, etc.)
Motion restrictions and muscle tightness
Pinched nerve pain
Inability to relax
Bruxism, TMJ problems etc.
Treatment is individually planned and aims at a more balanced body.
One can see an osteopath even without a specific symptom, as regular treatment promotes health, and can prevent new ailments from appearing. Osteopathy also increases body awareness.
What to expect?
The first treatment begins with a detailed medical history that takes around 10 minutes followed by a physical assessment. The interview and physical assessment is important to ensure the treatment given is suitable and safe. For the treatment one can wear daywear or underwear. After the treatment is over it’s beneficial to drink water and take it easy, in order for the body to get maximum benefit from the changes that occur in the body during and after treatment.
The history of osteopathy
Osteopathy was founded in the late 1800s by physician and surgeon Andrew Taylor Still. In his work as an osteopath Still was disappointed with the often inefficient and at times harmful medical practices of his day. After losing three of his children to meningitis, he saw the need to develop a more efficient way of treating illnesses. Still devoted the years to follow to studying anatomy and physiology intensely. He discovered that the body is made to withhold all that is necessary to maintain health. Still developed a form of therapy in which the human is seen as whole encompassing the physical body, the mind and the spirit. He understood the interrelationship between structure and function and believed that correcting problems in the body’s structure could improve the body’s ability to function and heal itself. Still treated his patients as a whole, not merely the disease, always aiming at finding the cause behind all the symptoms. He founded the first school of osteopathy in Missouri in 1892 and the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine is to this day operational
Andrew Taylor Still – the founder of osteopathy
In many European countries osteopathy is a fulltime course lasting four to five years. In Europe osteopathy is nearest to its original form as in the United States osteopaths are physicians. Their training is longer and manual skills make up only a relatively small portion of their education. However, osteopaths skilled in manual therapy exist also in The U.S. In Canada osteopaths mostly follow a similar formation as in the European lineage.
In Finland one can study osteopathy as part of either public or private education system. To work as an osteopath one has to register at Valvira, an agency charged with the supervision of social and healthcare sectors. At my university (Metropolia University of Applied Sciences) the formation took four years and consisted of extensive studies of anatomy and physiology as well as osteopathic examination and treatment. Two and a half years we worked at the practice clinic Positia alongside physiotherapists and podiatrists. In addition we studied medical knowledge, differential diagnosis, interaction and patient educational skills as well as research and development competence in osteopathy.
In Spain osteopathy is not yet regulated, which means anyone can call themselves osteopaths. Osteopaths working in Spain who have an education up to the European standards have either studied abroad or are physiotherapists who have taken a two-year-long additional course in osteopathy.