osteopathy

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Osteopathy

 

Definition

Osteopathy is a system and philosophy of health care that separated from traditional (allopathic) medical practice about a century ago. It places emphasis on the musculoskeletal system, hence the name—osteo refers to bone and path refers to disease. Osteopaths also believe strongly in the healing power of the body and do their best to facilitate that strength. During this century, the disciplines of osteopathy and allopathic medicine have been converging.

Purpose

Osteopathy shares many of the same goals as traditional medicine, but places greater emphasis on the relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system as well as on treating the whole individual rather than just the disease.

Precautions

Pain is the chief reason patients seek musculoskeletal treatment. Pain is a symptom, not a disease by itself. Of critical importance is first to determine the cause of the pain. Cancers, brain or spinal cord disease, and many other causes may be lying beneath this symptom. Once it is clear that the pain is originating in the musculoskeletal system, treatment that includes manipulation is appropriate.

Description

History

Osteopathy was founded in the 1890s by Dr. Andrew Taylor, who believed that the musculoskeletal system was central to health. The primacy of the musculoskeletal system is also fundamental to chiropractic, a related health discipline. The original theory behind both approaches presumed that energy flowing through the nervous system is influenced by the supporting structure that encase and protect it—the skull and vertebral column. A defect in the musculoskeletal system was believed to alter the flow of this energy and cause disease. Correcting the defect cured the disease. Defects were thought to be misalignments—parts out of place by tiny distances. Treating misalignments became a matter of restoring the parts to their natural arrangement by adjusting them.
As medical science advanced, defining causes of disease and discovering cures, schools of osteopathy adopted modern science, incorporated it into their curriculum, and redefined their original theory of disease in light of these discoveries. Near the middle of the 20th century the equivalance of medical education between osteopathy and allopathic medicine was recognized, and the D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathy) was granted official parity with the M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree. Physicians could adopt either set of initials.
However, osteopaths have continued their emphasis on the musculoskeletal system and their traditional focus on "whole person" medicine. As of 1998, osteopaths constitute 5.5% of American physicians, approximately 45,000. They provide 100 million patient visits a year. From its origins in the United States, osteopathy has spread to countries all over the world.

Practice

Osteopaths, chiropractors, and physical therapists are the experts in manipulations (adjustments). The place of manipulation in medical care is far from settled, but millions of patients find relief from it. Particularly backs, but also necks, command most of the attention of the musculoskeletal community. This community includes orthopedic surgeons, osteopaths, general and family physicians, orthopedic physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, specialists in orthotics and prosthetics, and even some dentists and podiatrists. Many types of headaches also originate in the musculoskeletal system. Studies comparing different methods of treating musculoskeletal back, head, and neck pain have not reached a consensus, in spite of the huge numbers of people that suffer from it.
The theory behind manipulation focuses on joints, mostly those of the vertebrae and ribs. Some believe there is a very slight offset of the joint members—a subluxation. Others believe there is a vacuum lock of the joint surfaces, similar to two suction cups stuck together. Such a condition would squeeze joint lubricant out and produce abrasion of the joint surfaces with movement. Another theory focuses on weakness of the ligaments that support the joint, allowing it freedom to get into trouble. Everyone agrees that the result produces pain, that pain produces muscle spasms and cramps, which further aggravates the pain.
Some, but not all, practitioners in this field believe that the skull bones can also be manipulated. The skull is, in fact, several bones that are all moveable in infants. Whether they can be moved in adults is controversial. Other practitioners manipulate peripheral joints to relieve arthritis and similar afflictions.
Manipulation returns the joint to its normal configuration. There are several approaches. Techniques vary among practitioners more than between disciplines. Muscle relaxation of some degree is often required for the manipulation to be successful. This can be done with heat or medication. Muscles can also be induced to relax by gentle but persistent stretching. The manipulation is most often done by a short, fast motion called a thrust, precisely in the right direction. A satisfying "pop" is evidence of success. Others prefer steady force until relaxation permits movement.
Return of the joint to its normal status may be only the first step in treating these disorders. There is a reason for the initial event. It may be a fall, a stumble, or a mild impact, in which case the manipulation is a cure. On the other hand, there may be a postural misalignment (such as a short leg), a limp, or a stretched ligament that permits the joint to slip back into dysfunction. Tension, as well as pain, for emotional reasons causes muscles to tighten. If the pain has been present for any length of time, there will also be muscle deterioration. The osteopathic approach to the whole person takes all these factors into account in returning the patient to a state of health.
Other repairs may be needed. A short leg is thought by some to be a subluxation in the pelvis that may be manipulated back into position. Other short legs may require a lift in one shoe. Long-standing pain requires additional methods of physical therapy to rehabilitate muscles, correct posture, and extinguish habits that arose to compensate for the pain. Medications that relieve muscle spasm and pain are usually part of the treatment. Psychological problems may need attention and medication.

Risks

Manipulation has rarely caused problems. Once in a while too forceful a thrust has damaged structures in the neck and caused serious problems. The most common adverse event, though, is misdiagnosis. Cancers have been missed; surgical back disease has been ignored until spinal nerves have been permanently damaged.

Normal results

Many patients find that one or a series of manipulations cures long-standing pain. Other patients need repeated treatments. Some do not respond at all. It is always a good idea to reassess any treatment that is not producing the expected results.

Resources

Organizations

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. 5550 Friendship Blvd., Suite 310, Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7231. (301) 968-4100. http://www.aacom.org.
American Osteopathic Association. 〈osteomed@wwa.com〉 http://www.am-osteo-assn.org.

Key terms

Orthotics — Mechanical devices that assist function.
Prosthetics — Mechanical devices that replace missing body parts.

osteopathy

 [os″te-op´ah-the]
1. any disease of a bone.
2. a system of therapy that uses generally accepted physical, medicinal, and surgical methods of diagnosis and therapy, and emphasizes the importance of normal body mechanics and manipulative methods of detecting and correcting faulty structure. adj., adj osteopath´ic.

Osteopathy is founded on the theory that the body is capable of producing the remedies necessary to protect itself against disease and other toxic conditions when it is in normal structural relationship and has favorable environmental conditions and adequate nutrition.

Osteopaths hold to the tenet that the body is a unit that has the inherent ability to overcome most curable diseases. They recognize that physical, chemical, and nutritional factors influence the state of health and that medicines and surgery are necessary in treatment of disease. Disorders that can be recognized are treated as distinct diseases, and manipulation may or may not be used as an adjunct to other treatment.

os·te·op·a·thy

(os'tē-op'ă-thē),
1. Any disease of bone. Synonym(s): osteopathia
2. A school of medicine based on a concept of the normal body as a vital machine capable, when in correct adjustment, of making its own remedies against infections and other toxic conditions; practitioners use the diagnostic and therapeutic measures of conventional medicine in addition to manipulative measures. Synonym(s): osteopathic medicine
[osteo- + G. pathos, suffering]

osteopathy

/os·te·op·a·thy/ (os″te-op´ah-the)
1. any disease of a bone.
2. a system of therapy based on the theory that the body is capable of making its own remedies against disease and other toxic conditions when it is in normal structural relationship and has favorable environmental conditions and adequate nutrition; it utilizes generally accepted physical methods of diagnosis and therapy, while emphasizing the importance of normal body mechanics and manipulative methods of detecting and correcting faulty structure.osteopath´ic

osteopathy

(ŏs′tē-ŏp′ə-thē)
n.
A system of medicine based on the theory that disturbances in the musculoskeletal system affect other bodily parts, causing many disorders that can be corrected by various manipulative techniques in conjunction with conventional medical, surgical, pharmacological, and other therapeutic procedures.

os′te·o·path′ic (-ə-păth′ĭk) adj.
os′te·o·path′i·cal·ly adv.

osteopathy (osteo)

[os′tē·op′əthē]
Etymology: Gk, osteon + pathos, disease
a therapeutic approach to the practice of medicine that uses all the usual forms of medical diagnosis and therapy, including drugs, surgery, and radiation, but that places greater emphasis on the relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system than traditional medicine does. Osteopathic physicians recognize and correct structural problems using manipulation. See also physician. osteopathic, adj.

osteopathy

A school of medicine practised predominantly in the US, which is based on Dr Andrew Taylor Still’s theory of healing, first delineated in 1874. Osteopathic theory holds that a body in a state of wellness is correctly adjusted, and that disease represents a loss of coherency of structure and/or function, and the inability to mount a normal defence against infection, malignancy, inflammation, toxins and other agents.

Osteopathy, key principles 
• Holism—The body is an integrated unit or balanced musculoskeletal system that holds the key to optimal physiologic function.
• Structure and function are interrelated—An alteration in the body’s structure leads to functional defects. 
• Homeostasis—The body has intrinsic mechanisms to heal itself; osteopathic manipulation, exercise and medication are intended to enhance the body’s intrinsic healing ability; chronic conditions are believed to occur when the healing capacity is compromised.
 
Other principles
• Prevention—Central to the school of osteopathy is the teaching of lifestyle alteration, in particular through diet and exercise.
• Rule of the artery—All illness responds to improved blood circulation, which provides essential nutrients and releases toxins.
• Somatic dysfunction—A premorbid state in which tissues are functioning in a suboptimal state, but structural defects are not yet present.

osteopathy

A school of medicine practiced predominantly in the US, and based on Dr Andrew Taylor Still's theory of healing, first delineated in 1874; osteopathic theory holds that a body in a state of wellness is correctly adjusted, and that disease represents a loss of coherency of structure and/or function, and the inability to mount a normal defense against infection, malignancy, inflammation, toxins and other inciting agents. See Articulatory techniques, Classical osteopathy, Cranial manipulation, CranioSacral Therapy, Integrative medicine, Joint mobilization, Lymphatic pump, Muscle energy manipulation, Myofascial release, Positioning techniques, Rule of the artery, Somatic dysfunction, Strain-Counterstrain Therapy, Visceral manipulation; Cf Chiropractic, Naturopathy.
Osteopathy, key principles
Holism The body is an integrated unit or balanced musculoskeletal system which holds the key to optimal physiologic function
Structure & function are interrelated An alteration in the body's structure leads to functional defects
Homeostasis The body has an intrinsic mechanisms to heal itself; osteopathic manipulation, exercise, and medication are intended to enhance the body's intrinsic healing ability; chronic conditions are believed to occur when the healing capacity is compromised
Other principles
•  Prevention Central to the school of osteopathy is the teaching of lifestyle alteration, in particular through diet and exercise
•  Rule of the artery All illness responds to improved blood circulation, which provides essential nutrients and releases toxins
•  Somatic dysfunction A premorbid state in which tissues are functioning in a suboptimal state, but structural defects are not yet present

os·te·op·a·thy

(os'tē-op'ă-thē)
1. Any disease of bone.
Synonym(s): osteopathia.
2. A school of medicine based on a concept of the normal body as a vital machine capable, when in correct adjustment, of making its own remedies against infections and other toxic conditions; practitioners use the diagnostic and therapeutic measures of conventional medicine in addition to manipulative measures.
Synonym(s): osteopathic medicine.

osteopathy

A system of medical practice that includes many orthodox principles but central to which is the notion that health depends on the proper relationship of the structures of the body to each other. Much emphasis is placed on the importance of the function of the spinal column as a whole and of the relationship of its component bones to each other and to the pelvis and the limb bones. Osteopathic treatment is manipulative and is aimed at freeing and loosening joints and re-establishing proper relationships. Osteopaths in UK are now formally registered as practitioners.

osteopathy

an established clinical discipline (now regulated by a statutory body) concerned with the interrelationship between structure and function of the body. Osteopaths have a holistic approach, treating the whole person in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, injury or disease. Osteopaths in sport mainly treat mechanical musculoskeletal problems.

osteopathy (s·tē··p·thē),

n See medicine, osteopathic.

os·te·op·a·thy

(os'tē-op'ă-thē)
1. Any disease of bone.
2. School of medicine based on a concept of the normal body as a vital machine capable, when in correct adjustment, of making its own remedies against infections and other toxic conditions.

osteopathy

1. any disease of a bone.
2. a system of therapy utilizing generally accepted physical, medicinal and surgical methods of diagnosis and therapy, and emphasizing the importance of normal body mechanics and manipulative methods of detecting and correcting faulty structures.

hypertrophic osteopathy (HOA)
symmetrical periosteal proliferation of new bone on the four limbs, chiefly localized to the phalanges and terminal epiphyses of the long bones, almost always associated with a chronic intrathoracic, occasionally an intra-abdominal, disease particularly a neoplasm. Called also Marie-Bamberger's disease (osteopathy), hypertrophic pulmonary osteopathy, secondary hypertrophic osteopathy.
metaphyseal osteopathy
see hypertrophic osteodystrophy.
nutritional osteopathy
includes rickets, osteomalacia, osteodystrophia fibrosa.
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