The philosophy and science of osteopathy
The philosophy and science of osteopathy is based upon the following four principles:
Structure and Function are Interrelated
Our anatomy, with each and every cell in our body, is in constant dynamic, rhythmic motion including blood flow, lymphatic drainage and cerebral spinal fluid fluctuation. The heart beats and the ribcage expands and contracts with each respiration. Each and every organ gently moves as it functions. Each and every structure has its own inherent rhythmic activity. This is the living anatomy that osteopaths feel with their hands. When this motion becomes impaired, the tissues will not function as they were intended. As a result of this altered motion, symptoms develop.
The Body is a Single Dynamic Unit of Function
There are many systems within the body and these systems are all connected to create a well-functioning whole. The circulatory system supplies blood to every tissue and organ; The nervous system connects and integrates all of the body’s functions; The fascia is a continuous sheath of connective tissue that connects the body front to back, head to toe, surrounds every muscle, organ, nerve and blood vessel providing support and lubrication. The circulatory system, the nervous system and the fascia all help to organize the body into a unified continuous whole. No single part exists independent of the whole. When even a small part of the body does not function optimally, the entire person is affected.
Dr. A.T. Still, the founder of osteopathy, described the essential need for optimal fluid exchange. When blood and other fluids flow freely, the tissues can perform their physiologic functions without interference. When injury or disease occurs, blood and fluid flow becomes obstructed and areas of the body may become under- nourished and vulnerable.
Understanding this concept of functional unity allows osteopaths to diagnose and treat patients as a functional whole.
The Body Possesses Self-Regulatory and Self-Healing Mechanisms
The human body is working to maintain a state of balanced function, keeping blood pressure, heart rate, temperature etc., within a normal range. When there is tissue damage healing occurs by the action of inherent forces and processes within the body. This healing force acts to restore functional balance. Osteopaths are trained to augment these intrinsic mechanisms to help the body to better and more quickly heal itself.
Rational Treatment is Based on Applying These Principles
Osteopathic treatment applies these principles with a sound and thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology. An osteopathic approach to treatment integrates osteopathic techniques to restore structural freedom in the tissues, enhance fluid flow throughout the body and creates the optimal setting for healing to occur.