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Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy: What it is?

Updated on April 6, 2017


Osteopathy refers to hands-on manual therapy that uses a number of osteopathic techniques to increase function and mobility of tissues throughout the body. The prime aim of these techniques is to enhance the blood supply to tissues, thus promoting body’s own healing mechanism.

Osteopathy is a system used for diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions, It is based on the principle that individual’s wellbeing is based on his skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues which work together. An osteopath believes that your body can perform well only if its structure works well. This is the reason that an osteopath works to take your body to a state of balance without the use of external medicines and surgeries. They bring to use touch therapy, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to enhance the mobility of joints which further leads to relieving muscle tension and enhances blood supply to the tissues. The specialist will also advise about the importance of correct posture and exercises in daily routine to aid recovery, promote health and prevent the onset of symptoms again.

In case, this sounds vague to you, rest assured that you are not alone. Let us discuss this profession and clear up confusion related to it. Osteopaths, most commonly treat patients who are suffering from CNSLBP (chronic-non-specific-low back pain) by bringing to use non-drug interventions. They particularly use manual therapies such as spinal manipulation and mobilisation. The study of biomechanics – how musculoskeletal system interacts with influences other parts of the body is central to what osteopathy is. It reflects that any joint or muscle injury must be treated as a part of the body as a whole as other parts of the system are also affected by it.

Hands-on Osteopathic Treatment

An osteopath focuses on your whole body, including spine, nervous system, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The hands-on methods used for treatments are:

  • Spinal manipulation
  • Soft tissue massage techniques
  • Stretching muscles and joint capsules
  • Muscle energy techniques
  • Gentle movement of abdominal nd pelvic areas
  • Articulation

As osteopath uses a gentle approach which is suitable for individuals ranging from newborn babies to the aged ones and has proved to be effective even for the complex medical conditions.

Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

Osteopathy is also known as a form of hands-on medicine, and osteopaths are qualified to provide advice on preventing of injury, pain management, and rehabilitation programs. A specialist can work out on a number of treatments and provide tailor made plans for exercises, relaxation techniques and sessions on body awareness.

Principles of Osteopathy Treatment

Principles of Osteopathy Treatment are:

  • The body is a unit and an individual is a unit of body, mind and soul.
  • The body is capable of self-regulation, healing and maintaining itself on its own.
  • Structure and function are dependent on each other, this concept avoids separation of anatomy, physiology, biochemical and electrical fields.

Osteopathy can be used effectively for following health conditions

  • Neck and back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Repetitive strain and overuse injuries
  • Vertigo
  • Tendonitis
  • Pregnancy discomfort
  • Sports Injuries
  • Osteopathy and Biomechanics

Benefits of Osteopathy

Osteopathy focuses mainly on the prevention of health conditions so that illness can be avoided, it teaches healthy behaviors and encourages lifestyle changes that promote health. Other than the conditions mentioned above people seek osteopathy help for conditions such as allergies, asthma, menstrual pain, migraine, sinusitis, tinnitus, dizziness, and carpal tunnel and jaw joints problems. The treatment can be combined with manipulative therapies so as to speed up the recovery from different conditions such as disc surgery or to address paediatric concerns such as ear infection and birth traumas. There are several other manipulative therapies that are brought to use for alleviating discomforts that are associated with pregnancy.

Studies have shown that regular osteopathy sessions can minimise the effects of any deformities to spine and joints.


Osteopathy must not be done in the cases of severe medical conditions where structural deformities or medical conditions such as high blood pressure and vascular diseases exist. Not only this, patients must let the specialist know about any medical condition that exists so that an osteopath can tell if osteopathy is the right option or not. A specialist must also discuss about treatment outcomes and concerns with the physicians.

Side effects

There can be a mild headache following neck or back manipulation. Few can experience minor bruising on the areas with sensitive skin; these reactions last just for few hours post the treatment and then fade away.


Osteopathy embraces the philosophy that a person’s body has natural ability to regulate and heal itself. The main factor which regulates this healing is body’s ability to circulate fluids and liquids freely. So, the main goal of osteopathy is not only to treat a disease but to promote overall wellbeing. It is helpful in removing the underlying cause of body pain, reduce stiffness and pain in the muscles and joints and increase the range of motion in joints. Other than this, it is helpful in treating spinal problems that are a result of poor posture or disc injuries. It is a non-invasive treatment and is effective in relieving chronic pain. The treatment is beneficial in reducing the stress caused to joints and tension in the body. It is beneficial for pregnant women as it helps them to recover from the trauma caused during childbirth. The treatment is an ideal choice for physically active people and those have sedentary office based jobs.


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