More About Osteopathy
Scope of Practice
Osteopathy & Back Pain
At least 80% of people in the industrialized world suffer from occasional back pain, either in acute episodes or as chronic pain suffered for a long period of time. There are many reasons for back pain; the onset can often be traced back to an accident or trauma, or postural strain. The body is very good at compensating for injuries and sometimes back pain does not immediately appear but can be triggered years later by either physical exertion or emotional stress.
Osteopaths will manually examine the back and other parts of the body for signs of restricted mobility and use various manual techniques such as soft tissue techniques, gentle release techniques, muscle energy techniques, articulatory or passive joint mobilization techniques to restore normal mechanics to the area linked to the back pain. The aim is to restore optimal movement of the ligamentary-musculo-skeletal system of the body.
Osteopaths will also advise on techniques for avoiding and relieving back pain including exercise and stretching, maintaining proper posture, stress management and workplace ergonomics.
Osteopathy & Children
Osteopathy can be used to treat children of all ages including new-borns. It has been found to be effective with the following conditions:
- Middle ear infections
- Growing pain
- Gait issues/clumsiness
- Chronic upper respiratory infections
- Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
- Learning Disorders
- Developmental Delays
- Digestive Disturbances
Injuries suffered from traumatic births or accidental childhood falls could contribute to the aforementioned conditions. A child’s body is often in a changing state. Such developments can cause imbalances leading to excessive strains being placed on different joints of the body. Osteopaths use a gentle and pain-free form of manual manipulation to restore the body’s natural structure and movement, therefore allowing the body to thrive in a centered manner.
Osteopathy & Digestive Problems
A healthy digestive system is vital for overall wellbeing. Osteopathy can be helpful for people suffering from different digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, reflux and bloating.
The spine and the cranium contain the nervous system that innervates the entire digestive system, so Osteopaths would treat any restrictions of the spine and pelvis with either manipulation or precise and gentle soft tissue techniques. Osteopaths would also address the different organs of the digestive system, for example the colon for IBS, to ensure accurate positioning, thus allowing these organs to move and function properly.
Osteopathy & Headaches & Migraines
Headaches and common migraines are frequently of mechanical origin. For example, reduced mobility and muscular tightness in the upper neck region reduces circulation and can pinch nerves which can cause headaches. Tension in the jaw can also lead to chronic headaches. Osteopathy, via manipulation, soft tissue stretches and cranial work helps restore healthy mechanics and reduce the strain on the tissues.
Osteopathy & New Born Babies
During normal pregnancy and delivery, a baby is exposed to significant twisting and compressive forces both intra-uterine and during the birth process. These tensions, often held within the connective tissue, can affect the normal physiological function of the baby. If left unresolved, it may lead to an unsettled, crying baby, disturbed feeding or sleeping patterns, and a baby that is only comforted by being held. Osteopaths, using very gentle techniques can release these disruptive forces thereby allowing the new-born to grow and develop unimpeded.
Parents bring their babies to Osteopaths to seek help with the following conditions:
- Infantile Colic
- Spitting up / Reflux
- Feeding difficulties
- Plagiocephaly (distorted head shapes)
Osteopathy & Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time for women, now more than ever you want your body to function at its best so that you have a comfortable and healthy pregnancy followed by an uncomplicated delivery. Osteopathy is very gentle form of treatment which is designed to restore the natural balance within your body as you go through your pregnancy. Using gentle hands with osteopathic techniques, the aim is to improve the function and mobility of spinal mechanics and the pelvis. By removing these obstructions the body will go back to its correct position and enable the best environment for both pregnancy and delivery.
Osteopathy & Repetitive Strain Injuries
Repetitive strain injuries, or RSI’s, are conditions derived from small repetitive actions. Everyday stresses and strains, dictated by our busy lifestyles, can lead to a gradual buildup of tension and overuse of muscles, tendons and joints that are required to carry out the same repetitive function, like typing on a computer keyboard or clicking a mouse. When this reaches its peak, pain and disability may be experienced.
RSI’s are characterized by short bursts of excruciating pain, weakness and lack of endurance, made worse with activity.
Commonly affected areas are the joints of hands, thumbs and fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, shoulders and neck. The most likely occupations that are predisposed to RSI’s are office and manual workers, drivers, sportsmen and anyone who performs a repetitive task.
Osteopaths aims are to determine what tissues are responsible for the symptoms and, more importantly, what biomechanical stresses are the root cause. Once both of these are identified, soft tissue and postural rebalancing techniques are applied to decrease the stress and re-establish health in the afflicted area. Advice is usually given to prevent the return of the problem.
Osteopathy & Respiratory Problems
In Hong Kong there is a prevalence of respiratory related issues, for example asthma, allergies, recurring coughs and colds, and sinusitis. Osteopaths can improve poor mobility of the spine, rib cage and diaphragm resulting in improved drainage and overall respiratory function.
Osteopathy & Sports Injuries
Injuries in sport are common and what is less known is how effective osteopathy can be in treating them. Osteopaths take a global approach in the treatment of these injuries. Trauma can have both a local and remote effect on the body. Trauma affects the stability of joints and soft tissues leading to uneven wear and tissue damage.
In treating these sports injuries, Osteopaths, using a variety of techniques, will aim to speed up recovery, restore joint function and stability, prevent recurrent injuries and further mechanical imbalance and decrease pain.
Commonly treated sports injuries include:
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Shin splints
- Ankle sprains
- Knee pain
- Hip pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Muscle strains
- Joint sprains
Osteopathy & The Elderly
Nowadays, people are living longer and fuller lives, which means that our bodies experience greater stresses and strains during our lifetime. As we get older, the elasticity present within our body deteriorates and this increases the chance of injuring the soft tissues and bony structures of the body. Often elderly people resign themselves to the fact that they must suffer aches, pains and stiffness.
In many patients, arthritis is the cause of joint swelling, pain and stiffness. For example, when the spine starts to deteriorate and the posture becomes bent forward, it places significant strain on the back and neck joints and muscles. Osteopaths cannot cure the wear and tear process, but they can help increase the body’s ability to compensate for the changes and reduce pain by guiding stiff joints through their range of movement, thereby relieving the strain. In chronic cases the source of the aches and pains may be due to muscle spasm. Gentle soft tissue and stretching techniques can reduce this excessive muscle tension, ease the pain and improve movement. As a result there is often a reduced need for medication and even surgery.
Although the process of aging affects all systems of the body, the body is adaptable. Things may take a little longer to heal in an elderly patient, but health and healing forces are always present.
Osteopathy & Women
Apart from the stresses and strains of daily life, women often have to deal with both pelvic imbalances and sometimes hormonal fluctuations. Balance within the hormonal system is very important for general function of the body. Both cranial and structural strains can affect this system via the pituitary gland (who’s function is to regulate hormones) thus affecting the menstrual cycle and sometimes your mood. Restricted motion of the sacrum and pelvis may interfere with the nervous and circulatory systems leading to congestion and pain within the lower back, legs and pelvis. Using gentle techniques Osteopaths address these restrictions and imbalances in order to restore the body to its natural function. Support for the hormonal system, period and pelvic pain are all common conditions that Osteopaths treat on a regular basis for women.
Some conditions osteopathy can help to treat;
- Low back pain
- Pubic symphysis dysfunction
- Water retention
- Neck and shoulder pain