– My shoulder hurts, it’s horrible!
– Go see an osteopath.
How many times have you heard this answer?
But what do they all have with osteopaths?
How about a good physiotherapist or even a chiropractor.
But what does an osteopath do?
Often poorly defined activity, people with occasional or chronic pain hesitate to consult.
What to choose between a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, an osteopath?
Let’s try to see things more clearly.
- 1 What does an osteopath do?
- 2 What is osteopathy?
- 3 Musculoskeletal osteopathy (or structural osteopathy)
- 4 Visceral osteopathy
- 5 Cranial osteopathy
- 6 What does the osteopath treat?
- 7 What is aquatic osteopathy?
- 8 How does osteopathy treat stress?
- 9 How does an osteopath feel?
- 10 How is a session with the osteopath?
- 11 Osteopath how to dress?
- 12 How long to rest after an osteopathy session?
- 13 What are the dangers of osteopathy?
- 14 What are the osteopath’s rates?
- 15 What is the difference between physiotherapists and osteopaths?
- 16 What is the difference between osteopath and chiropractor?
- 17 The benefits of osteopathy
What does an osteopath do?
There are many therapies available for people with certain pain.
And it is sometimes very difficult to choose which type of practitioner can help you.
Chiropractor, physiotherapist, osteopath?
Which one to choose to get better?
In this article, we will focus on the function of osteopathy in the treatment of pain.
You are sure to know this specialty, but what benefits can you expect from sessions with an osteopath?
This is what we will try to understand here.
What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy assumes that the body is made up of three interconnected structures.
If one fails, it affects the other two.
These three structures are:
- bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons
- the bones of the skull
If these three structures are balanced, your body is perfectly healthy.
If one fails, the osteopath will step in to identify and treat the root cause of the symptoms.
Musculoskeletal osteopathy (or structural osteopathy)
It dwells on the treatment of muscles, bones, and joints.
The spinal cord follows a path from the brain to the spine.
The brain and spine make up what is called the central nervous system that coordinates your body.
The nerves in the spine send messages to various parts of the body.
If it loses mobility it causes an interruption in blood flow and the nervous system resulting in tissue disorder that affects the muscles.
This explains why muscle tension can be caused by joint blockage.
So restoring mobility to a joint can reduce muscle tension.
Different osteopathic techniques can relieve your back pain, shoulder blockages, and all joint problems.
Its role is to assess and treat organs.
A functional stomach problem for example can cause back pain.
Indeed, to get rid of stomach tension, you must first relieve the tension in the spine.
So an osteopath always examines the whole body and not just the painful area.
It can just as easily help you in the event of gastric reflux but also examine a woman of organ descent for example.
It can thus locate or treat all kinds of organic disorders.
The practitioner examines the bones of the skull.
The head is made up of different bones which are all connected and form what are called sutures which are joints.
The skull’s movement capabilities are greatly reduced.
The bones must therefore slide easily next to each other, a bit like tectonic plates that must meet perfectly.
They must be flexible to protect and nourish the brain and for the nervous system to be functional.
If there is tension in the skull, it can cause further tension at a distance.
The osteopath, therefore, practices gentle techniques to restore the movement of the bones of the skull.
Osteopathy can thus relieve dizziness, headaches, visual problems, stiff necks, etc.
It can also be used for children with a deformed skull.
What does the osteopath treat?
Of course, many causes cause serious symptoms that the osteopath can manage.
This is the case with sports injuries, bad postures, and accidents.
It can treat a cracking jaw, a blocked neck, a sore knee, a wheezing ear, a spinning head…
The fields of application of osteopathy are endless.
But it can also intervene in cases of poor diet or intense emotional stress which in some time severely affects health.
Imagine a glass slowly filling with water and eventually overflowing.
The process is the same for a body that fails to compensate and ends up showing painful symptoms.
The osteopath focuses his thinking on the causes rather than on the symptoms.
The techniques he applies are meant to help your body repair itself to express better balance.
What is aquatic osteopathy?
Aquatic osteopathy is a technique little known and still little practiced.
It consists in immersing the patient weighted with floaters in water at 35°C to obtain total muscle relaxation.
The effect of this hot water is analgesic (against pain) and reassures the patient who can let go.
The osteopath can then undertake work on the emotional with more efficiency.
Note that an aquatic osteopathy session is always preceded by a table session and is subject to the practitioner’s appreciation after evaluation.
Aquatic osteopathy is indicated for treatment:
- post-operative or post-traumatic pain
- chronic pain
- emotional turmoil
- after amputation
How does osteopathy treat stress?
The osteopath manages stress and anxiety by locating organs blocked by nervous tension.
He thus succeeds in identifying and treating the physical symptoms directly related to anxiety.
It uses gentle and progressive respiratory, visceral and cranial techniques to restore normal organ mobility.
Often the patient feels a feeling of liberation and delivers his emotions with tears, and redness.
He will admit to feeling drained after the session.
These specific techniques are used to treat:
- depressive syndrome
- anxiety attacks
- tetany attacks
- sleep disorders
- fibromyalgia pain
- stress-related muscle contractures
How does an osteopath feel?
The osteopath provides pain relief through his hands.
And since they are his only tool to guide his understanding, he learns early on to listen and observe with his hands.
He uses them first of all to distinguish the tissues, he manages to differentiate a bone, a tendon, a ligament and connects his pain to an organ.
He knows perfectly well the natural limits of mobility of the human body and precisely locates blockages.
Palpation, therefore, provides him with the answer to his questions.
For example, it suffices to touch the abdomen to feel the blockages causing digestive disorders and generated by stress.
The osteopath very often feels the stigmas of your experience which lead to pain sustained by secrecy and silence.
He does not know the precise causes but manages to link the harmful effects.
How is a session with the osteopath?
The first consultation with an osteopath lasts on average 45 minutes to an hour and takes place in four stages.
1- The interview
The practitioner discovers you, so he makes an approach to understand your problem.
It, therefore, analyzes your detailed presentation and then examines your medical file if necessary.
This first contact also called an anamnesis, therefore defines your pain or discomfort from the perspective of its treatment.
2- The osteopathic examination
The osteopath then performs a full examination of your entire body even if your pain is localized.
You have to admit that back pain can be caused by an ankle problem and, for example, cause digestive problems.
Leave it to the practitioner to establish a complete balance sheet and draw conclusions about your condition.
It could just as easily point you to other weaknesses that could potentially cause other future ailments.
During this examination, the osteopath can also perform medical procedures such as taking blood pressure, listening to the lungs, or performing neurological tests.
3- The implementation of the treatment
The osteopath begins corrective work to release tension.
The applied methods differ depending on the symptoms.
They can be soft or more toned by a contracted / released system.
They can also be structural (the famous manipulations that crack bones) to restore mobility.
4- End of session
Your osteopath tells you what he detected during the consultation, the orientation he recommends for the treatment, and sometimes tells you avenues of phytotherapy, food supplements, or homeopathy.
It can also advise you on changes in your daily life such as an adaptation of your workstation, a change in sleeping posture, or a major dietary modification.
Osteopath how to dress?
A session with the osteopath requires light clothing.
Some practitioners prefer the patient to be in underwear to facilitate the examination.
Wearing flexible and thin clothing such as a tank top, t-shirt, leggings, or shorts is also accepted.
How long to rest after an osteopathy session?
An osteopathic session can have some mild side effects.
Indeed, the patient may experience temporary fatigue, slight dizziness, or a temporary feeling of cold.
In addition, pain may persist for a few days.
But if it continues beyond a week, it is recommended to consider a new session.
Your practitioner will also advise you not to carry heavy loads or to avoid practicing intensive sport following your osteopathy session to do not distort the results of the manipulations.
What are the dangers of osteopathy?
Osteopathy is generally not dangerous.
However, the practitioner’s skills must be fully reliable and recognized and their diagnosis must be made at the first consultation.
There are also many contraindications:
- during outbreaks of osteoarthritis
- head trauma
- bone tumors
It is also not intended to deal with very problematic diseases such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- autoimmune diseases
- infectious diseases
- inflammatory diseases
- psychiatric illnesses
The osteopath must be able to assess the situation and refer his patient to classic medical follow-up when necessary.
It should also be noted that the osteopath cannot carry out cervical manipulations without a certificate from the patient’s doctor and cannot take care of babies under 6 months.
He is also prohibited from using particular instruments to treat his patient.
What are the osteopath’s rates?
Osteopathy is a liberal profession supervised by the health authorities but its service rates are free.
As a general rule, a session evolves between $100 and $135 depending on the region.
Sessions for infants are very often billed between $80 and $100.
Some practitioners charge the same rate when they have to treat children, adolescents, or the unemployed.
If the osteopath comes home, the cost of his service is generally increased by $20 to $30.
Please note that osteopathy sessions are not approved and therefore not reimbursed by health insurance.
What is the difference between physiotherapists and osteopaths?
Unlike the osteopath, the physiotherapist is one of the paramedical professions framed by the Health Code.
If an osteopath is trained in 3 to 6 years of study, the masseur-physiotherapist must validate a Diploma to be able to exercise.
In addition, the fields of action of physiotherapists are noticeably different.
It intervenes in the case of:
- muscle or joint problem
- motor disorders
- after-effects of surgery
It also provides the necessary rehabilitation after an accident, the restoration of the functions of the musculoskeletal system, or the reduction of breathing difficulties.
His intervention techniques are:
- posture correction
- joint mobilization
- the realization of restraints, rehabilitation devices
- neuromuscular relaxation
What is the difference between osteopath and chiropractor?
If a physiotherapist owes his training to a diploma validated in 4 years of study, a chiropractor follows training for 6 years.
If the physiotherapist focuses his activity on functional rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation, the chiropractor is a specialist in the spine.
He practices under the status of independent therapist that the patient is free to consult without medical advice.
His intervention results in the application of techniques called adjustments which are gentle, precise, and painless manipulations.
He also practices applied kinesiology, a technique for evaluating structural, chemical, and emotional aspects by muscle testing.
The peculiarity of the chiropractor lies in the fact that his manipulations focus only on the spine that he links to the nervous system.
He frequently detects and treats subluxations of the spine that he corrects with pressure and adjustments.
It can also solve chronic problems like vertigo, digestive, gynecological and urinary disorders.
The chiropractor is more difficult to find than the osteopath or physiotherapist due to a lack of a sufficient number of practitioners trained each year.
The benefits of osteopathy
Osteopathy is a specialty that can treat many health problems.
It is not confined to musculoskeletal pain but can be an alternative to treat digestive, urinary, and neurological disorders and even intervene in the cardiovascular system.
The osteopath can also manage otolaryngological or pulmonary disorders.
Its field of action is very wide and the relief it can provide is very different from physiotherapy.
Do you have shoulder pain?
It may be a good idea to point you in the way of the osteopath.
He may be the only one to link your pain to an ailing organ to resolve your problem.
Now you can make an informed choice about its specialty.
And to discover even more, I recommend the Atlas of osteopathic techniques (#ad) which describes in pictures 450 common handling techniques.
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