As you get back into a fitness routine this fall, it’s important to understand true injury prevention. Taking your workouts to the next level too quickly can result in injuries such as knee sprains and ankle fractures. A good injury prevention strategy includes gradual progression, proper form, and adequate hydration.
Osteopathy – What is Osteopathy?
Chiropractic can treat a wide range of problems, such as back pain, neck or shoulder pain and hip or knee problems. It can also help with breathing difficulties, digestive problems and headaches.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are fully licensed physicians who can prescribe medication and perform surgery in all 50 states. Their unique philosophy centers on the musculoskeletal system, the body’s interconnected network of nerves, muscles and bones.
At its inception, osteopathy was a new and radical idea. It was developed in the late 1800s by an American physician named Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917). Born in Virginia, Still spent his early years in a rural fringe area of the United States, where he gained an intimate knowledge of nature and simple traditional medicine. During the Civil War, he served as a hospital steward and surgeon. His experience led him to conclude that the medical treatments he was providing were ineffective. The deaths of his children during an epidemic of meningitis reinforced his conviction that he must find a better way to heal people.
In the mid-to-late 1800’s, Still developed a system of manual treatment that he called “osteopathy.” He understood that the human body is much like a machine in that it functions best when its parts are intimately related as a functional whole. He also recognized that the immune system is essential to the ability of the body to self-regulate and self-heal. He was also one of the earliest doctors to consider health within a biopsychosocial context.
During his career, Still found that diseases were often caused by abnormalities in the musculoskeletal system. He believed that these structural problems decreased the ability of the nervous and circulatory systems to function properly. Osteopathic manual treatment corrects these abnormalities, allowing the body to return to its natural state of health.
A guiding principle of osteopathy is that the structure of the body, if healthy, is inherently self-regulatory and able to maintain its own structural integrity. Under certain conditions, however, the accumulated stress of life’s challenges may overwhelm this natural ability. As a result, the signs and symptoms of disease manifest. In osteopathic theory, these symptoms are the body’s attempt to protect itself.
It is the osteopathic physician’s job to identify and treat the underlying causes of disease. This is done by addressing the underlying stresses that have weakened the body’s inherent ability to maintain its own health. In addition, the osteopathic physician is trained to recognize that these underlying causes are not isolated to particular organs or systems of the body.
Osteopaths use a range of hands-on treatment techniques which may include stretching, pressure, massage and manipulation. These are used to restore the free flow of fluids in the body to help the system heal itself. They also encourage patients to take a more active role in their own recovery and can offer advice on diet, lifestyle and exercise. Osteopaths see themselves as primary healthcare practitioners, meaning that they do not require a referral from a GP and can be funded by medical insurance.
The osteopathic approach to health takes into account that all parts of the body are connected and influence each other. For instance, if one ankle is injured, it can lead to the patient favouring that leg, which in turn can affect the knee and hip and possibly even the back. For this reason osteopathy treats the whole body rather than just the area causing pain or discomfort.
Your osteopath will use a hands-on technique called palpation – which means they gently explore the deep and surface tissues of your body with their hands. This involves feeling for feedback in the tissues themselves like congestion, density, dehydration, scarring and loss of resilience or “motility”.
After taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical evaluation, your osteopath will develop an individual treatment plan. This will usually involve osteopathic manipulative techniques (OMTs). OMTs are gentle but profoundly effective, helping the body to release its innate healing mechanisms. These techniques can include post-isometric relaxation, reciprocal inhibition, and balanced ligamentous tension.
Cranial osteopathy is a specific form of OMT that involves various manipulations of the skull and its structures to improve the primary respiratory mechanism by balancing cerebrospinal fluid flow, somatic dysfunction and parasympathetic regulation. Cranial osteopathy has been shown to improve spatial memory and increase fluid circulation in the brain, resulting in improved removal of metabolic waste. It is also beneficial in the treatment of traumatic brain injury.
Osteopaths must be aware of the ethics of their profession. They must also consider how their own values may affect their clinical decision-making. Osteopaths must understand that their ethical beliefs are influenced by the culture of the patient they treat. This includes the cultural beliefs of the patient and their family members. For example, an osteopath may use a method that involves touching the patient in a way that violates the patient’s culture.
This can cause the osteopathic profession to be perceived as biased or insensitive to the patient’s cultural beliefs. In addition, the osteopathic profession has a long history of internal conflict and division. Osteopaths may feel pulled in two directions, one towards historical osteopathic principles and the other towards evidence-based practices. This can lead to a lack of communication between the two groups and create an environment where there are competing values.
A current problem facing the osteopathic profession is that it does not provide a framework of ethics analysis specifically geared for osteopathy. This is especially evident in the osteopathic research arena where substantive discussion of specific ethical issues is rarely included in clinical research protocols. A new approach is needed, such as the development of a practical ethics tool kit serviceable for clinical and research practice perfectly fitted to the osteopathic profession.
It is also important for osteopathic practitioners to have an awareness of the cultural context of their patients, as well as their own anthropological perspective. This can help them avoid the dangers of ethnocentrism and promote culturally sensitive PCC for patients with traditional/CAM belief systems rooted in historical OPP.
The osteopathic profession should also be proactive in promoting its benefits to society. This could include encouraging the public to participate in osteopathic manual therapy and other forms of healthcare and advocating for legislation to allow more people to access it.
Finally, osteopathic practitioners should be mindful of their own ethical and legal responsibility to act with integrity at all times. This includes when demonstrating osteopathic treatment to the public through presentations at conferences and other events. This requires an understanding of the medical ethics of the osteopathic profession, such as the American Academy of Osteopathy Code of Ethics, which describes an ethical approach for osteopathic students, residents, and physicians in clinical and educational settings. It encompasses aspects of four medical ethics principles: respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice.
The first step in becoming an osteopath is earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. While there is no one undergraduate major that is preferred, osteopathic schools look for well-rounded students with good grades who have taken courses in biology, microbiology, chemistry, human anatomy, calculus and physics. They also seek candidates who have completed community and hospital-based volunteer work or professional experience that can be placed on a medical school application.
Osteopaths spend three to six years in medical school and complete two to six-year internships/residencies after graduation. Like MDs, DOs are licensed to diagnose and treat various health conditions and can prescribe medication and perform surgery. After finishing their medical education, they must take the USMLE or COMLEX – both of which are administered by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners – and pass state licensing exams. Some osteopaths choose to take just the USMLE, while others opt to combine it with the COMLEX and learn more about a range of specialties, including pediatrics and internal medicine.
Admission to osteopathic medical schools is both comprehensive and competitive. Applicants are required to have an overall and science GPA of 3.2 or higher. They must also have high character, maturity and a strong sense of dedication. In addition to academic achievements, DO schools are looking for candidates who can demonstrate interpersonal skills and be a positive influence on patients.
Most DOs work in small private offices or clinics, assisted by a team of nurses and other administrative staff. However, they are increasingly found in larger healthcare organizations or working as part of a primary care group. Regardless of where they practice, most DOs still spend about half their time in hands-on musculoskeletal manipulation, as well as learning about other areas of medicine, such as preventative care and patient education.
The University of New England College of Osteopathy (UNE COM) has established a set of requirements to ensure the safety and welfare of all of its students, as well as the protection of patients. These requirements must be met in order for a student to successfully complete the osteopathic curriculum and graduate with a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). Students should review the UNE COM Code of Ethics and its supplement as part of their preparation for graduation.