http-equiv='refresh'/> Global Therapies: Osteopathy

Thursday, 2 June 2011


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The introductory page on the General Osteopathic Council website defines osteopathy as:
"Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.  It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well.  So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.  Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms.  They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring."
I've included the full introduction, as it is important for a well rounded understanding of what this modality is about. I particularly like the quote that they "work to restore your body to a state of balance". 

My reason for posting about osteopathy is because I have just seen one. My reason for this was twofold. Firstly, from a professional viewpoint I need to know who in my local area is good, and who I can refer my own clients to. I found this particular practitioner on recommendation from a good friend - the best way to find a therapist in my view. But, I do not blindly send my own clients to someone unless that person has treated me personally.

The second reason I saw the osteopath is because I felt wonky! I have no serious or acute issue, I just felt like something wasn't quite right with my alignment, and no quantity or sports massage from my colleague was going to fix that as we don't manipulate hard structures, i.e. bones. I have had neck ache on and off for some time, putting it down to perhaps stress of relocation, entering the world of self-employment, or perhaps an underlying and long standing issue from some years back when my neck "froze"...I had a period of about three weeks six or seven years ago when I couldn't turn my neck at all. Perhaps that was a precursur to me becoming a sports massage therapist, but I digress. 

So, professional curiosity and personal need for perhaps a little realignment took me to the osteopath today.

He did quite a lot of work on me, partly because he knew I understood the anatomy and reasoning behind his treatment. This meant that he could reduce the amount of time explaining what he was working on and spend more time treating, but mostly because he know I was prepared and understood what was happening.

Realigned were:

  • Left tibia/fibula (the two bones in your lower leg) - the head (top) of the tibia was too high - this caused me pain on the bone at the outside of my lower leg, just below my knee. Because of that my ITB was tight and caused me knee pain when running. Was this travelling up the body and giving me pains in my neck? Who knows...everything is linked afterall!
  • Pelvis - slightly misaligned, with tenderness, especially at the iliosacral joint. Could this have been causing the neck pain? 
  • T5 and T8 - two vertebrae around shoulder blade area . Were these responsible for my neck pain?
  • C2 - a vertebrae in my neck - rotation of my neck wasn't quite so free looking round to the right, which is where the pain was manifesting, but not necessarily the key cause. (I think my fellow writer, Tim, refers to smoke and fire, and this analogy springs to mind here).
  • C1 - the top vertebrae - this one wasn't going to play today. I was holding or protecting it too much and like all good practitioners, if something isn't allowing you to treat it, it is for a reason so leave it alone for now.
All the time he was realigning bones he kept checking and rechecking how my range of movement was, how joints felt - whether they were springy, hard, blocked - and asking me for feedback.

Muscle testing also took place, the result being that I have an overly tense (hypertonic) right psoas muscle. This muscle attaches from the vertabrae in your lower back to the inside of your thigh bone (lesser trochanter of the femur). It's deep inside your abdomen and you have one on each side. For me, my left psoas muscle has become weak so we did some work on strengthening it. I've also got an exercise I can do at home (with help from someone) to continue to strengthen that side. I may need a little work to ease the tension on the right side, but with the left becomes stronger it should ease the right side naturally - thereby creating balance - which is what this is all about! 

How do I feel now? At the end of the session the tension and blocked feeling on the right of my pelvis had gone, and my neck rotation improved, it certainly feels easier. A few hours later and I still feel good. It feels like I want, and more importantly can, stand upright on two feet. Now that might sound funny, but for ages now I've tended to put most of the weight through one leg - something that's bound to cause an imbalance, or be the cause of an imbalance.  I'll certainly be recommending more clients to see osteopaths after my experience today.

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