Practiced all over the world, osteopathy falls into the category of alternative or complementary medicine that takes a holistic approach to treating illness and the like. There are many reasons why one would choose to venture from the traditional western medicine and turn to alternative medicine. For one, an individual may find that western medicine has failed him or her and wishes to take another route; another reason might be just because. Many people love the idea of osteopathy, and alternative medicine in general, and this article will provide you with all the necessary information so you can determine for yourself if you will love it, too.
Basics of Osteopathy
Osteopathy is a branch of healthcare that runs on focusing on the body as a whole, not as a collection of separate parts; osteopaths use this holistic approach to assert that the body is capable of healing itself, but greatly depends on the musculoskeletal system. In fact, the musculoskeletal system—muscles and bones—plays a central role in osteopathy. The idea of osteopathy isn’t to treat just one problem area, but to use certain techniques to manipulate the overall health and well-being of the body. When one little thing is disrupted, the whole body will be affected. Since one of the main ideas is that the body can heal itself, when something is out of sync or damaged, the body cannot do this. There are two different types of therapy that osteopaths commonly use:
Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) or Therapy (OMT)
Since the bones are central to what can disrupt the body’s normal functioning, an osteopath often uses one of these techniques to do subtle adjustments of the bones and body in an effort to free the flow of energy throughout the body. Other gentle hands-on techniques might include soft tissue stretching, deep tactile pressure, and mobilization of joints. Ultimately, these techniques are supposed to clear up a problem a patient might have.
Working with the Patients
Another important aspect of osteopathic treatment is the encouragement of the patients to live a healthy lifestyle and make the necessary adjustments to do so. An osteopath often advocates for a patient to keep their bodies healthy by eating right and exercising to stay in shape. The healthier you can be at any given time, the less likely you are to get sick.
Education for Osteopaths
Instead of getting an MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree, osteopaths get a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree. Both MD’s and DO’s are physicians, licensed by state and specialty boards to write prescriptions and perform surgery. DO’s, like MD’s, receive 4 years of undergraduate schooling, in addition to the 2-6 years of residency training. In the United States, many DO’s use their own holistic approach, along with other medical interventions when necessary; it is also possible that an osteopathic doctor will work alongside a general practitioner with an MD degree.
Going about getting treated by an osteopathic practitioner is much the same as going about getting treated by an MD practitioner. You will have to give a complete medical history, along with any current problems and symptoms for why you have made the visit. (Note: some people just go to a DO instead as a family doctor). You may be asked to perform simple movements so the osteopath can examine how you use your body. The osteopath will use a well-trained sense of touch and observation to identify specific problem areas. The osteopath may turn to X-rays or blood tests if necessary. Once a diagnosis is determined and given, a treatment plan will be developed based on the findings. The above techniques will be used to achieve the desired results.