Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment which lays its emphasis on the mechanical structure of the body. Treatment methods are principally manual, using the hands to improve mobility, drain inflammation, or stabilise an area, depending on the diagnosis. Any problem within the mechanical framework of the body can have a knock-on effect on the organs within. So osteopaths believe that maintaining a healthy framework can help patients with a wide range of conditions.
‘No Osteopath ever “Cured” Anyone of Anything!’
This statement is attributed to Dr A.T. Still, the man who started Osteopathy! The over-riding principle of Osteopathy is that our bodies normally fix themselves. If we cut ourselves, the cut gradually heals; if we get an infection, we feel ill for a while but then we recover. So the aim of the Osteopath is not to ‘cure’ you – your own body does that itself – but to remove those barriers that are stopping your body from putting itself right. (see OUR APPROACH). However, there is a sense in which a true ‘cure’ is exactly what we are aiming for. (see TREATMENT)
The Body as a Single Unit
Another principle of Osteopathy is that the body is a single unit – all its parts are connected to each other and influence one another. Although we talk about individual “systems” of the body, this is for our convenience in teaching and study. No “system” can exist on its own and they all influence each other. This is why the Osteopath may end up working on areas of the body that appear to be completely unconnected with your problem – the aim is to enable your body to get on with putting itself right.
Because Osteopathy concentrates on creating the circumstances that will allow your body to get on with fixing itself, rather than on ‘curing’ a condition, it has the potential to help patients with a wide range of different underlying complaints – indeed, the aim of Dr Still was to reform the practice of medicine as a whole and he viewed Osteopathy as a complete system of healthcare.