What is Osteopathy? It’s a funny word. Many people don’t really know what it means (and it’s not easy to spell either). The “osteo” part means something to do with bones – like in osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. The “path” part means something bad – like in pathological or psychopath. That’s doesn’t sound great! Not very positive either. So what is it really about?
Osteopathy is about helping to keep all your bodily tissues healthy, especially the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and nerves. All together, these are called the Musculoskeletal system. When these tissues are healthy, you can move without pain and your whole body can function well.
Osteopathy is about how people move and live and keep healthy. And about how you can use your awareness of your own movement habits to help get rid of those little niggles, or those big niggles. About how, as we all get older (ahem) we can surf those changes with a little grace and ease.
Osteopathy is not only about your bones – it’s about all of you!
Usually, people come along for treatment when they have some pain or related symptoms which prevent them moving properly. When pain or discomfort disturbs your sleep, keeps you on sick leave from work, stops you picking up your child, spoils your enjoyment of normal life. This might be a problem which has gone on for awhile or a recent episode, it’s never too late to start treatment to get you back on your feet again.
Treatment is hands-on, to massage and stretch muscles and to move and free up joints. Osteopaths sometimes ‘click’ joints (we call that manipulation) but that’s not always a part of the treatment, it depends on what works best for you. It’s also important to look at your daily activities to see where you can make changes to help keep yourself active and relaxed.
Osteopathy is about moving well, and keeping ease of movement. Firstly, this helps the more “mechanical” aspect of aches and pains from so-called bad posture (there is no “bad” posture – there is a reason for every posture) or from injury or illness. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it helps general health because if you can move freely then your breathing is good, your circulation is good, your digestion is good. So you feel more relaxed and your sleep is good.
Every Osteopath is registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), which ensures that they have the right qualifications, appropriate indemnity insurance, and keep up with the required Standards of Practice and Continuing Professional Development. Each Osteopath has a degree which includes many hours of supervised clinical practice as well as studying the underlying anatomy, physiology, pathology and so on – it’s comparable to the training which physiotherapists or junior doctors do, but specialising in the musculoskeletal system of the body.