What is Osteopathy
Osteopathy is a way of detecting and treating injured parts of the
body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints. It assists the body
to function again as a balanced and efficient system, just like a well
tuned engine. Once balanced, the body will function with the minimum
wear and tear, which enables it to have better function and more energy.
How does Osteopathy work?
Restriction of motion within the body is often due to traumatic or
postural stress causing muscle tension and pull on fascias in the area;
this affects the tissue around it.
The continual movement of bodily fluids is also essential for maintaining
well being. When this is not working, a state of congestion of circulation
develops. This impairs the delivery of oxygen and nutrients and removal
of waste products from the tissues which creates discomfort and pain.
This often may be felt in an area not that closely associated to the
original problem. Osteopathic practitioners use specialized skills to
identify restrictions and tensions of the tissues in your body. Their
specific techniques ease those restrictions, which allows for normal
physiology to continue.
How does Osteopathy help the body
to heal itself?
The body is often able to take care of itself, to compensate for injury.
However, in some instances, the injury is greater than the body’s
ability to adapt or heal. In other instances the body is not currently
capable to regroup to be able to heal itself. This inability may be
created by a number of reasons, and the injuries, sometimes even minor
ones, start to create a problem.
In those cases, treatment is necessary to restore the balance within
your body and assist your body to be able to use it natural reserves
and strengths to heal itself.
Osteopathic treatments are based on enabling your body to function
properly. Basic principles of Osteopathy are:
• That all body parts are interconnected
• That the function of one part of the body is dependant on the
normal functioning of the other parts
• Good circulation is essential in order for the body to get proper
nutrients, and for the removal of waste products. Example: What happens
to the water in a pool when you leave it for too long, without movement
(e.g. if the water pump is broken). The water becomes cloudy, begins
to smell bad and algae start appearing.
The same thing happens in your body if the normal movement of certain
part is restricted. The movement may get restricted due to distortion
of the tissue after an injury or due to the pull from some other tight
structure that did not heal properly after an old injury. As explained,
lack of movement leads to the development of stasis, congestion of bodily
fluids and pain and other problems appear.
• If allowed the body is able to heal itself. Here is a simple
example: When you cut yourself, the cut heals on its own, without any
action on your part, i.e. you do not have to use any medication or cream
for minor cuts. But sometimes, as the cut, or an injury heals, it may
create a scar that may pull on the surrounding tissue. Osteopathy then
assists your body, by applying very precise techniques to remove tensions
created by an old (that you might have forgotten you had.) or new injury.
By removing the tension, the body regains its natural ability to function
on its own and the tissue, by getting enough oxygen and nutrients, restarts
the process of healing itself.
Another simple example how a minor injury may create a much bigger
problem is if you walk in shoes that are too small. First, you are going
to feel some slight discomfort, after 2-3 hours, you might start to
limp, after 4-5 hours you might start experiencing back pain, and at
the end of the day you would most likely feel exhausted, frustrated
or irritable. And, it all started with shoes that were just slightly
tight. Your family and friends probably would not notice your tight
shoes but they would notice the way you walk and your facial expression.
In this case, it is very simple to remove the problem, as the pain
will most likely disappear as you take your shoes off, but if you continue
wearing them for a few days or months, some of the changes in your walking
and posture and spine will start to set in, and it will be harder for
the pain to disappear as you take your shoes off.
Osteopathy can be beneficial for the treatment of acute pain from a
current injury or disorder and for the treatment of chronic pain following
past injuries or health problems.
What does the word ‘Osteopathy’
It originates from two Greek words. The root “osteone” which
means structure and “pathos” meaning pain.
How did Osteopathy begin?
In the spring of 1864, Andrew Taylor Still a medical doctor and surgeon
from Kansas, watched helplessly as the best medications then available
failed to save his three children from spinal meningitis. Frustrated,
Still started his search for an alternative healing practice. He eventually
based his new system on the idea that manipulation of the spine could
improve blood flow and thus improve health by allowing the body to heal
Osteopathy was officially recognized in the United States under Theodore
Roosevelt’s presidency as he had personally been successfully
treated by Osteopathy. Osteopathic medicine is presently taught in
fifteen universities in the United States, where graduates are granted
medical degrees. In the United States the practice of Osteopathy has
evolved more toward the practice of medicine and surgery, with training
in traditional methods based on palpation and manual therapeutic methods,
The World Health Organization recognizes the Osteopathic concept of
somatic dysfunction as being scientifically proven, and the British
Medical Association recognizes Osteopathy as a medical discipline. In
Australia, Osteopaths are statutorily registered practitioners.
Osteopathy in Canada
In 1981, Philippe Druelle, D.O., founded the first osteopathic school
in Canada, in Montreal. The Toronto school was established in 1991.
The Canadian College of Osteopathy teaches a comprehensive five years
program in Traditional Osteopathy. This is followed by an additional
year of independent study that is strictly devoted to a research thesis.
The Canadian College of Osteopathy’s program is European in origin
and is based on manual therapy techniques. Throughout the studying,
emphasis is given on the anatomical, physiological and biomechanical
principles of the functioning of the body and development of precise
osteopathic palpation and its application to therapeutic techniques.
Comprehensive exams are given to ensure students conception of material.
For more details on the training of Canadian College of Osteopathy see
The aim of the World Osteopathic Health Organization (WOHO) is to promote,
develop, protect and establish throughout the world the study, philosophy,
science, and practice of osteopathy in both its application and research
for the benefit of the people of all nations. In addition WOHO seeks
integration of Osteopathy into existing health services in different
WOHO is in the process of developing world standards for Osteopathic
practitioners. These standards will be adopted by The Ontario Association
of Osteopathy (OAO) and all members of the OAO will be required to meet
and follow these standards.
Currently in Ontario there are no government regulations regarding
To ensure the best possible care and standardized training, the Ontario
Association of Osteopathy (OAO) is lobbying the provincial government
to create province wide regulations.
In Ontario there are two categories of Osteopathic practitioners:
• Osteopaths who have extensive training in manual osteopathic
practice. They treat patients using manual techniques only. They do
not use drugs, medication, surgery or other medical procedures. The
training needed to become an osteopath is available in Canada, as well
as in the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and many other
countries in Europe.
• Osteopathic physicians also practice in Ontario. These practitioners
get their training in the United States. They are licensed physicians
who also have osteopathic manual training.