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Everything you need to know about osteopathy

Osteopathy is a drug-free, non-invasive manual therapy aimed at improving health in all body systems by modifying and reinforcing the structure of the musculoskeleton.

An osteopathic practitioner will concentrate on the joints , muscles and spine. Treatment is meant to have a beneficial impact on nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems throughout the body.

Manual medicine means the hands are used to help diagnose and treat.

Osteopathy is a complementary therapy. It’s used to improve wellbeing alongside conventional treatment. Osteopathic physicians, however, are also trained as medical doctors (MDs), and have more experience than other complementary practitioners including naturopaths. They specialize in osteopathy.

Osteopathy is one of the fastest growing health-care professions in the U.S.

Important facts about osteopathy

  • Osteopathy uses a drug-free, non-invasive form of manual medicine that focuses on the health of the whole body, not just the injured or affected part.
  • The osteopathic physician focuses on the joints, muscles, and spine.
  • Osteopathic intervention can help treat arthritisback painheadachestennis elbow, digestive issues, and postural problems.
  • Treatment can also assist with sleep cycles and the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic symptoms.

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy includes manipulation or joints to treat whole systems of the body.
Osteopathy includes manipulation or joints to treat whole systems of the body.

Osteopathy takes a whole-body, holistic approach to healthcare.

It uses hands-on manual techniques to improve circulation and correct altered biomechanics, without drug use.

An osteopathic physician does not focus exclusively on the problem area, but uses manual procedures to manage all body systems to have good overall well-being and health.

The Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) is the term used to diagnose and treat disorders utilizing these methods.

Techniques include relaxation, gentle pressure and resistance, called coercive osteopathic medicine.

In addition, an osteopathic doctor can issue prescription medication and use surgical methods to support holistic, manual treatment.

Many osteopathic practitioners in fields such as family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics often act as primary care doctors.


Osteopathy can relieve and treat a wide variety of conditions.

These include:

  • arthritis
  • foot, ankle, hip, and knee pain
  • back pain, neck pain, and sciatica
  • hand, shoulder, and elbow pain
  • headaches
  • tennis and golfer’s elbow
  • postural problems due to pregnancy, sports injury, driving or work strain, or digestive issues
  • neuralgia

Osteopathic doctors can also identify symptoms that can not be treated by osteopathy, in order to refer patients to other specialists.

What to expect

An osteopath will first of all fully assess a patient’s health to work out what treatment is needed in the sessions.
An osteopath will first of all fully assess a patient’s health to work out what treatment is needed in the sessions.

People who visit an osteopath should make sure their doctor is certified and approved to practice by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Ask if this paperwork is not on show in their practice already.

An person may be referred by a primary care physician, or may refer to himself.

Patients who are self-referred should tell their regular doctor to ensure reliable on-going treatment.

Osteopathy is focused on the patient. There will be an initial consultation before any successful care or management underway.

During this appointment, the osteopathic doctor can discuss, listen and take case notes of the patient’s health issues. The session is scheduled to last about 45 minutes.

Physical examination

The osteopathic doctor may physically examine the patient, who will need to remove any clothes for the diagnosis to be made. During this process the dignity of patients should be respected.

The exam will take 1 to 2 hours to complete.

To help the osteopathic physician make an accurate study of their posture and stability, the patient may be asked to show basic stretches and moves.

The doctor would also examine the condition of the joints , ligaments and tissues, using a highly qualified contact technique called palpation.

The osteopathic doctor will recommend a treatment plan to accommodate the needs of the patient.

This will include the number of sessions that are likely to be required, but this number will vary based on the reaction of the patient to the treatment.

Osteopathy promotes self-healing so an osteopathic practitioner can also prescribe improvements in diet, home workout programs, and adjustments in lifestyle.

Manipulation and hands-on work are gentle but a patient with osteopathy can feel sore for the first 24 to 48 hours due to the physical work being performed.

What will it cost?

The cost can vary, depending on the location, the patient’s insurance plan and the state they are living in. Many insurance companies will cover osteopathy for conditions necessary.

For outpatient complementary treatments, it is worth asking the provider whether there is a cap per session or an overall level.

Is an osteopathic physician the same as a chiropractor?

A chiropractor may also treat the back, but is more likely to concentrate on the location of the spine and joints in order to enhance nerve function and healing capacity.

A chiropractor is more likely to “pop” the joints, or “crack.” Typically an osteopathic doctor doesn’t do that. A chiropractor will focus on a particular area of issue while an osteopath will look at the entire body. An osteopathic practitioner is a medical doctor specializing in the fast-growing approach to healing and well-being.


The musculoskeletal framework and other systems may benefit from Osteopathy.

Osteopathy and back pain

Many people visit an osteopathic doctor with back pain but there is also the chance of preventive care.

Today’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle means the average American spends over 10.5 hours a day in front of a computer. This can lead to poor posture, and problems with the musculoskeleton.

Treatment requires gentle and delicate care , especially of the muscles and soft tissues. The doctor can stretch the muscle, or massage it.

If there are signs of a damaged disk or other serious injury, the osteopathic doctor may suggest taking any imaging tests and leading the patient into traditional therapy.

An osteopathic doctor can help avoid complications by recognizing possible referred pain causes in good time.

They can recommend improvements to the diet and workplace ergonomics, such as seating and desk location.

Prevention advice can involve:

  • stretching exercises
  • lifting techniques
  • posture
  • breathing
  • stress reduction

These strategies have the ability to help improve flexibility and relieve discomfort. Learning to lift, or example, with the legs, and stretching before exercise can minimize injury.

Changes in lifestyles can significantly improve health and reduce continuing risks and cost to health.

Preventing injury allows more time to be engaged, less days off work and opportunity to enjoy the safe living benefits.

Osteopathy and sleep

Osteopathy can help a person sleep when chronic pain has been causing insomnia.
Osteopathy can help a person sleep when chronic pain has been causing insomnia.

Pain and discomfort can result in a lack of sleep or even restless nights.

This can make it harder for the body to work properly, and will pain coping capacity.

Osteopathy has been shown to alleviate chronic pain causing sleeplessness and insomnia.

Studies have shown that osteopathic treatment in infants under 4 months of age can minimize sleep apnea but more study is required to confirm this.

Other body systems

Osteopathic therapies may have a beneficial influence on nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems to enhance the functioning of the body and overall health.

Some osteopathic techniques can enhance lymphatic function and lead to internal changes in the body without having to undergo invasive surgical procedure.


As with all therapies, osteopathy can present some risks.

It is normal for a patient to feel stiff for 24 to 48 hours after treatment, much like after exercising. Some patients can have brief periods of pain.

Older patients with osteoporosis can experience less common side effects, including extreme pain, rib fracture, numbness , and tingling.

If these occur, the patient may talk to his or her osteopath or doctor.

More serious adverse reactions can require emergency medical attention.

Can include stroke, disc prolapsed, limb-radiating pain, nerve damage, muscle weakness and problems with the bladder or intestine.

Most of these threats are uncommon but they should be known to patients before they begin treatment.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.