Wikipedia defines osteopathy as an approach to healthcare that emphasizes the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease. This practice was created in the 1800s in the US by a man named, Andrew Taylor Still. He began a school, which is today called A.T. Still University in Missouri.
There are eight key principles in osteopathy:
- The body is a unit.
- Structure and function are reciprocally inter-related.
- The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms.
- The body has the inherent capacity to defend and repair itself.
- When the normal adaptability is disrupted, or when environmental changes overcome the body’s capacity for self-maintenance, disease may ensue.
- The movement of body fluids is essential to the maintenance of health.
- The nerves play a crucial part in controlling the fluids of the body.
- There are somatic components to disease that are not only manifestations of disease, but also are factors that contribute to maintenance of the disease state.
People try different techniques of osteopathic treatments in order to find what works best for their situation. These techniques are all considered osteopathic manipulative medicine. This is a way of aiding the body’s own recuperative facilities. Examples of these include cranial osteopathy and visceral osteopathy.
Cranial osteopathy is a set of theory and techniques that have been developed from the observations of Dr. William Sutherland that the plates of the cranium permit microscopic movement or force dissipation and that there is a 'force' or rhythm that is operating in moving the plates of the skull. Cranial osteopathy is said to be based on a primary respiratory mechanism, a rhythm that can be felt with a very finely developed sense of touch. Some osteopaths believe that improving dysfunctional cranial rhythmic impulses enhances cerebral spinal fluid flow to peripheral nerves, thereby enhancing metabolic outflow and nutrition inflow. It has gained particular popularity in the treatment of babies and children.
The primary respiratory mechanism is not acknowledged as existing in standard medical texts, and at least one study has failed to show inter-rater reliability between craniosacral therapists attempting to detect this rhythm. While other studies have reported evidence of the existence of such a rhythm, the link between any such mechanism and states of health or disease has also been contested. One meta-analysis from the British Columbia Office of Health Technology Assessment (BCOHTA) concluded that "there is evidence for a craniosacral rhythm, impulse or 'primary respiration' independent of other measurable body rhythms", however it was noted that "these and other studies do not provide any valid evidence that such a craniosacral 'rhythm' or 'pulse' can be reliably perceived by an examiner" and that "The influence of this craniosacral rhythm on health or disease states is completely unknown."
Craniosacral therapy is based on the same principles as cranial osteopathy, but the practitioners are not qualified osteopaths. The theory and techniques of cranial osteopathy have also had a major influence in alternative medicine in general.
Visceral osteopathy says that the visceral systems, which include the internal systems such as the digestive track, the respiratory system, etc., are dependent on interconnection synchronicity of the motion of all organs and structures of the body. This also states that at optimal health, the relationship can remain stable despite the body’s constant variety of motion. Practitioners believe that this type of osteopathy creates balance between the motion of all organs and structures of the body, namely, nerves, blood vessels, and facial compartments.
In 2005, six controlled trials were done to test the efficiency of osteopathic manipulative treatment. The conclusion was that they significantly reduce lower back pain, even greater than what was expected of placebo effects alone. It was also shown that the effects can last up to three months.
posted on June 14, 2010