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complementary therapies explained osteopathy
Osteopathy is a traditional term which refers to Osteopathic Manipulation. The modern term, Osteopathic Medicine, is indicative of the total licensure of Osteopathic Physicians to practice medicine, surgery, obstetrics and manipulation.

Andrew Taylor Still, MD, the founder of Osteopathic Medicine who practised at the time of the Civil War, was very dissatisfied with the profession of medicine. After losing three of his own children in an epidemic of spinal meningitis, he decided there had to be a better answer.

Closer examination of his patients revealed that those with illness and other complaints had areas of tightness, soreness, swelling and other physical problems. He found that by working with them manually, better results were achieved than with his medicines. He concluded:
  • The body is designed to heal itself
  • Structural abnormalities are intimately related to bodily function
  • Restoration of structural integrity by manipulation normalises blood and nerve supply which allows the body to heal itself.
He intended to "improve the practice of medicine, surgery and obstetrics" but his new ideas were rejected, so he established a new philosophy of medicine called "Osteopathy." He opened the first Osteopathic College in Kirksville, Missouri, in 1892.

Today, there are nineteen Osteopathic Colleges and more than 45,000 Osteopathic Physicians (DOs). It is estimated that in excess of 20% of the US military medical corps are DOs.

All major forms of manipulation in use today originated with the Osteopathic profession. These include High Velocity-Low Amplitude, Muscle Energy, Counterstrain, Myofascial Release, Ligamentous Release and a very important addition from the late 30's, Craniosacral Manipulation, developed by William Garner Sutherland, DO. Other health care providers are performing Craniosacral Therapy, but it is important to have medical training to know indications and contra-indications, as well as practice it properly.

Osteopathic Medicine has board certification in all specialities, including two in manipulation, which MDs do not have. The first, which has been known as Special Proficiency in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, has been changed to Neuro-musculo-skeletal Medicine. With additional training and testing, one can then become a Fellow of the American Academy of Osteopathy.

Inflammation of the middle ear - Otitis Media - is a common affliction of infants and children. Conventional medical treatment consists of repeated courses of antibiotics, and when that fails, plastic tubes are inserted through the eardrum to drain the infection. An extensive study in the Netherlands showed that children who were not treated with antibiotics got well as fast as those with antibiotics, those who had repeated courses of antibiotics often had perceptual problems in school, and those with ear tubes were prone to hearing defects. Four to five Osteopathic cranial treatments, by improving circulation and enhancing the immune system, will usually clear up Otitis Media and lessen future episodes.

A 61-year-old woman had arthritis of the left knee without a history of injury, and had been advised to have knee replacement surgery. The pain in the knee altered her daily activity, so that she had been unable to ski for fifteen years - her favourite sport. Physical examination revealed a significant degenerative change in her left knee and a marked restriction of the left sacroiliac. The sacroiliac problem impaired the blood and nerve supply to the left leg which affected the way she walked on the knee. After four Osteopathic treatments, and the addition of nutritional supplements including glucosamine sulphate, she is skiing again.

See also our Osteopathic Medicine eJournal Article.

Back to main Complementary Therapy page.

Source: Harold Magoun, DO, FAAO, DOEd (Hon), Greenwood Village CO
Copyright 1997-2001, Complementary Wellness,
Littleton CO USA, +1-303-770-4022, www.CompWellness.com/.
Reprinted with permission.
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