Osteopathy is a non-invasive manual therapy designed to balance whole body systems and restore impaired physiological function through the manipulation and strengthening of musculoskeletal structures.
It is based on the concept that the body’s cells, tissues and framework, and their functioning are dynamically interconnected and interrelated, and that the body holds that ability to self-regulate and self-heal. Through manual manipulations of the joints, muscles, and spine, manual osteopathic practitioners stimulate the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems, promoting physiological functioning, healing and balance.
Manual osteopathic practitioners (MOP) use a diagnostic technique, referred to as palpation, to examine the texture, temperature, hydration, and mobility of the tissue and its underlying structures. Examining the musculoskeletal system in this way allows the MOP to detect injury, scarring, inflammation, and dehydration, as well as any reduction of tissue, flexibility, and resilience. These diagnostic measures do not focus on problem areas alone, but rather seek to identify the cause of pain or disruption to the body, and to treat the body as a dynamic whole to re-establish balance, health, and wellbeing. The most common manipulations used by MOP include cranial-sacral therapy (CST), counterstrain, high velocity low amplitude (HVLA), muscle energy technique (MET), myofascial release.
CST – There are 8 cranial bones, which make up the top portion of the skull: ethmoid, sphenoid, frontal, and occipital, as well as 2 parietal and 2 temporal bones. The sacrum is a triangular bone with five segments fused together located at the bottom of the spine between the lumbar spine and the tailbone. MOP use pressure on these areas to relieve compression and stress, stimulating the natural flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the nervous system, reducing inflammation and pain.
Counter strain is a technique developed by Larry Jones, D.O., whereby MOP identifies and applies pressure to a tender point believed to be caused by a maladaptive pattern of motion, and realigns the fascia and neuromuscular reflexes while the patient is passively positioned.
HVLA – This technique that applies a brief quick controlled force to a joint while the body is specifically positioned, correcting joint motion, and restoring function.
MET – This technique that uses the muscle’s energy to relax and lengthen the muscle. During the technique, the patient contracts the muscle in a specific position while the MOP applies a counterforce. MET is often used to increase range of motion, and decrease tightness, stiffness, and pain.
Current research suggests that osteopathy can be an effective treatment for:
- Temporomandibular joint Disorder (TMJ)
- Chronic pain
- Headache and migraine
- Digestive disorders
- Increased Heart functioning
- Improved muscle and joint function and range of motion
- Improved posture
Below you will find some of our frequently asked questions about osteopathy. If your question is not answered, please feel free to contact us!
In Canada, there is no regulation governing osteopathy. However, there are several schools in Canada that offer programs in manual osteopathic practice that align with the World Health Organization Benchmarks for Osteopathy. According to the World Health Organization, a Type 1 Standard education and certification for manual osteopathic practitioners (designed for those without prior health-care experience) must include a minimum of 4200 hours of education with 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice and training. It is important patients to confirm that their practitioner has the necessary training required to ensure safe effective therapy.
The term manual osteopathic practitioner is the term used to identify individuals trained in osteopathic practices within Canada. A Doctor of Osteopathy or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is a medical degree offered in the United States and a title protected by colleges of physicians and surgeons. DOs must complete a 4-year medical degree, as well as residency medical training.