About Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a physical therapy developed at the end of the 19th Century by Dr AT Still in the mid-west of the United States of America.  Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of medications of the time, Dr Still developed a philosophy of manual therapy based on a detailed study of anatomy.  He showed that most body pain and many non-pain related conditions have musculoskeletal structural origins and/or consequences.   Addressing those structural changes associated with pain or disease at least relieved the pain, and often lead to the body being able to return itself to health.

Osteopathy uses a diverse and eclectic range of manual techniques including, but not limited to spinal manipulation, joint mobilisation and articulation, lymphatic pumping, neurological mobilisation, neuromuscular technique, muscle energy technique, strain-counterstrain or positional release, functional technique, myofascial release and soft tissue massage.

There are many manual therapies including a number of manipulative therapies; Hippocrates described physical therapy techniques over two thousand years ago.  Many techniques osteopaths use are similar, if not the same as those used by manipulative physiotherapists and chiropractors.  The thing that is different about osteopathy is that its philosophical underpinnings lead to a gentle and precise approach.  A common phrase among Osteopaths is “find it, fix it, then leave it alone”.

Osteopathy is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, particularly back pain, neck pain and injuries.  Many patients have found it useful in relieving the symptoms of a number of conditions.  Osteopathy is increasingly appreciated by General Practitioners for the role it can play in the health and well-being of patients.

The evidence base for physical therapies and osteopathy in particular is steadily increasing.  As recently as October 2011, the journal Spine reported that spinal manipulation and structured exercise were effective methonds of treating low back pain. In January 2012, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that showed spinal manipulation and exercise were significantly more effective for neck pain than analgesics in the short and long term. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends manual therapy for low back pain and manual therapy as an adjunct therapy for knee pain and osteoarthritis.

The Cochrane Review suggests spinal manipulative therapy as a treatment:

The Cochrane collaboration continues to review research on spinal manipulative therapy for acute lower back pain and thoracic spine pain.