What is osteopathy?

The term "osteopathy" comes from the Greek and is literally translated as "bone disease." Unlike a chiropractor, who tends to treat blockages of the musculoskeletal system in a rather firm way, the osteopath treats joints, ligaments and muscles in a gentle and painless manner. The idea behind this is that an energetic connection exists between the joints and all organs and muscles. If this interaction is disturbed, it can lead to diseases of various kinds.

This manual therapy was founded in the late 19th century by American doctor Andrew Taylor Still, and the method is still used frequently and taught at universities. Another form of osteopathy since developed is craniosacral therapy (CST), which focuses on the skull and sacrum.


How does osteopathy work?

Using the hands, an osteopath detects hardening of the muscles and malformations of the joints, then tries to correct them with special grip techniques, gentle touches, light pressure and careful stretching. The osteopathic treatment is intended to restore balance in the body so that blood and lymph fluid can flow freely again. Although the therapy only involves gentle touch, this has nothing to do with "laying on of hands." The therapist does not heal with the power of the hands, but rather provides a harmonious balance between joints and muscles, so that the self-healing powers of the body can power up again. A sure instinct and a well-founded education are, however, prerequisites for successful treatment. Several clinical studies show that the method, when expertly executed, can deliver amazing healing results.

When does osteopathy make sense?

An osteopathic treatment is useful in all musculoskeletal disorders. These include, for example, lumbago, sciatica, joint pain, neck tension and similar. But it can also be useful for migraines, menstrual pain or sports injuries. Due to the gentle treatment method, this method has been shown useful in children. Even babies a few weeks old can be treated with this method. Colicky babies can be treated just as successfully as children with impaired concentration or hyperactivity.

How do I find an expert?

The American Osteopathic Association is a good place to start. The site contains a search for doctors by state or zip code, and also offers a broader specialty database at DoctorsThatDO.

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