There are many reasons for lower back pain, but one treatment gaining traction is osteopathy. Osteopaths are often thought of as being chiropractors doing something different, or physicians who don’t prescribe drugs. The truth is that osteopaths do not follow the same training and background as chiropractors and they practice in a very different way than M.D.S.
Osteopathy is a distinct system of primary health care that emphasizes the interrelationship between structure (primarily the skeleton)and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health.
Osteopaths believe that 99% of all problems which present to a doctor’s office have their root causes in either joint or soft tissue dysfunction, and that attending to these dysfunctions is more important than treating disease, which is how M.D.s approach the problem of pain and ill health.
Osteopaths treat musculoskeletal problems, not just those involving back pain, but also other types of disease and disorders that arise from or that might be affected by dysfunction in the body’s structural system: respiratory diseases like asthma and sinusitis; gastrointestinal problems, including irritable bowel syndrome; urinary disorders like incontinence and overactive bladder; heart disease and circulatory problems like high blood pressure and varicose veins; and a host of other conditions.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT)is the hallmark treatment for musculoskeletal problems practiced by osteopaths.Osteopaths will spend an hour or more with a patient during the initial evaluation, doing a thorough case history and physical examination,with special attention to the spine.
OMT is done at the end of this initial visit. During it, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose and treat problems within the range of joint motion – from the top of the neck to the bottom of the feet.
Osteopaths will use OMT to treat both musculoskeletal pain and health problems that involve dysfunction within joints, muscles, ligaments, or tendons. The mainstays of OMT are articulatory techniques, which mobilize joints; myofascial release technique,which lengthens shortened muscles;and counterstrain technique, which uses lesser force to achieve pain relief.
When osteopaths use OMT with a patient, that treatment is always coupled with advice about diet and exercise, with an emphasis on correcting posture or movement problems that may have led to or perpetuated the patient’s problem. After the initial visit, if necessary, osteopaths will refer patients to other health care practitioners. But they are always available for questions and advice.
Osteopathy is not an alternative medicine or a replacement for medical treatment by an M.D. It’s simply another way of helping the body heal itself without the use of synthetic drugs or surgery. And it’s a way of taking care of the whole person, rather than just focusing on a particular symptom or disease.
The number of osteopaths is growing and patients are becoming more aware of what a valuable tool they can be in helping to keep themselves healthy and free from pain.