When to contact an osteopath

When to contact an osteopath

Osteopathy is a manipulative therapy born in America at the end of the nineteenth century: its main objective is the restoration of the global balance of the body, starting from the assumption that all its parts are interconnected and able to implement mechanisms of self-regulation and self-healing.


What is osteopathy and what does it cure?

The birth of osteopathy is due to the American doctor Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917, who in 1874 enunciated the fundamental principles of this new discipline and in 1892 founded in Kirksville, Missouri, “The American School of Ostheopathy”, the first school of osteopathy to the world, now known as AT Still University (ATSU).


After having worked as a war doctor and having experienced firsthand the ineffectiveness of traditional medicine, Still opposed the use of drugs and surgery and founded osteopathy, believing the human body to be able to cure itself or rather to rebalance itself. .


Osteopathy is in fact a manipulative therapy , which the WHO inserts between traditional medicines (TM) or complementary and alternative medicines (MCA), which has as its primary objective the restoration of the general balance of the body, through non-invasive manipulation techniques. and without the intervention of drugs or machinery.


The term osteopathy derives from the Greek (“ostéon”, bone and “páthos”, suffering): the osteopath treats the body starting from the structure and understanding of its deep integration with mind and spirit.


It is a medical and holistic discipline that looks at the human being as a whole and therefore has both a curative and a preventive action on all body systems, in order to improve mutual dialogue and optimize the functioning of its various parts. 


It acts on:

  • skeletal system , with the aim of rebalancing and treating the mechanisms that can prevent the correct performance of all natural and physiological functions, causing a state of alteration or disease;
  • nervous system , whose dysfunctions often lead to discomfort such as migraines or neuralgia , digestive and visceral problems, sleep disturbances , etc .;
  • digestive system , for all problems related to the stomach or intestine ;
  • respiratory system , helping to calm the symptoms of incorrect breathing, but also to restore the functionality of the components necessary for the breathing process;
  • circulatory system , so that blood can flow freely and all organs can receive the right amount of nutrition and oxygen;
  • muscular system , through manipulative treatments useful for relieving tension, resolving contractures or stiffness and improving strains, strains or other muscle injuries.

The principles of osteopathy

At the base of the treatment of osteopathy there are some fundamental principles that define the guidelines of the profession:


  • the human being is a dynamic unity of body, mind and spirit;
  • the body possesses mechanisms of self-regulation, self-healing and conservation of internal balance ( homeostasis );
  • structure and function are mutually interconnected ;
  • good osteopathic manipulative treatment is based on the understanding and application of the principles set out above. 

Depending on the ailments or the age of the patients, it will therefore be possible to practice musculoskeletal techniques, visceral techniques, sacral techniques and myofascial techniques .


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Who is the osteopath and what does he do?

Wanting to give a definition of osteopath , we can say that it is a health professional who deals with researching the causes that have generated a discomfort, a disorder or a state of imbalance within the body, with a view to restoring the processes of self-healing and self- regulation and improve the level of general health.


Before any treatment, osteopathic diagnostics include:

  • anamnesis , i.e. the collection of all useful information on the current pathology or on the patient’s state of health, including the examination and interpretation of the instrumental tests provided (radiographs, CT, magnetic resonance, etc.);
  • static and dynamic observation of posture , mobility and any analgesic attitudes ;
  • diagnostic palpation , for the evaluation of the various structures. 


Often the osteopath works in synergy with medical specialists, physiotherapists  and other professional figures , and his collaboration is precious in specific contexts such as sports, postural, dental, as well as in the gynecological and pediatric fields.


When is osteopathy not indicated? 

Osteopathy is good for you, but there are cases in which it is not recommended or the use of its treatment is not enough . First of all, it is always good to rely on competent and serious professionals , who have obtained certified studies or even have other knowledge in the medical field.


As in the case of other types of manual medicine, one of the major limitations of osteopathy is that manual clinical evaluation is subjective and, as such, not entirely reliable. 


In principle, osteopathic treatment is not recommended in cases of severe anatomical injuries and medical emergencies . Osteopathy is not even able to cure degenerative, genetic, infectious or inflammatory diseases , for which specific diagnoses, therapies and treatments are necessary, but it can provide valid integrative support for improving the quality of life of patients and reducing of chronic symptoms and disorders.


What is the difference between osteopath and physiotherapist?

The main differences between the figure of the osteopath and that of the physiotherapist concern first and foremost the training path and secondly the approach they use.


At least as regards Italy, the osteopath has been recognized as a healthcare profession recently, following the Lorenzin Law (3/2018, art.7), but a dedicated university course has not yet been established.


To become an osteopath you must obtain the DO, Diploma of Osteopathy , from private training centers, following specific paths that differ according to the starting training:

  • Type I: 5 years full time, after obtaining a high school diploma or degree in the non-health sector.
  • Type II : 5 years part time or with exemptions, after a degree in the health sector.


In Europe and the rest of the world, the number of countries where osteopathy is recognized and regulated is constantly growing (among others the United States, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Portugal, Malta, Russia, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand).


The physiotherapist , or doctor of physiotherapy, is a recognized health professional who, independently or collaborating with other health professionals, offers rehabilitation for the main systems of the body, especially following pathological events. To be qualified for the profession, a three-year or master’s degree in physiotherapy must be obtained .


Regarding the approach, the osteopath uses only manipulative techniques with the aim of accelerating the self-healing mechanisms and restoring the overall state of well-being and balance of the body. The physiotherapist focuses mainly on local symptoms, for example after surgery or trauma, and makes use of physical therapies , such as massages, therapeutic exercises and machinery (e.g. tecartherapy, laser therapy, ultrasound, shock waves, magnetotherapy , etc.).


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