A question with which to I often compare, especially in Italy, is the phrase “But what does exactly an osteopath is?”. This uncertainty is also the first reactive effect by various listeners, when I talk about my profession.
“Osteopathy”. A confused concept. A concept that fails to distinguish between the many professions, back in vogue especially in recent years.
With this first article, I will try to give you not only welcome on my website, but clearify especially the differences between the figures of professionals, both on the health sector both on the parasanitario one, in order to ensure full conceptual clarity on “who” is “what” and “how” it does.
1. WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY?
The term “Osteopathy” derives from the Greek, from the union of the terms ὀστέον (ostéon= “bone”) and πάθος (páthos=”suffering”). Translated literally, therefore, means “technique that takes care of the bones’ pain”. But to define this technique, this translation is limiting and misleading because, in reality, this technique takes care of much more.
Its founder, Andrew Taylor Still, an american surgeon who lived between 1828 and 1917, discovered this technique as a result of a long research aimed at finding an alternative remedy is to those known by him and tested, both in terms of pharmacological both in terms of surgery, practiced especially on the battlefield during his period as military doctor in the war of secession. This research was not motivated only by the mere desire to give a turn to medical science and its foundations, but especially by a tragic fact that forced him to get in his knee by facing illness, despite all the knowledge that he possessed: the loss of three of his sons, due to a cerebrospinal meningitis.
There, so, everything began. He theorized that the human body was a perfect machine since its deep anatomical root, the skeletal structure, and with full capacity of cure itself, where this same one ceded adequate space to vascular structures and nerves, responsible for the correct operation of each mechanism. It was, then, the practical demonstration of the above mentioned theory, through the successful healing of a child affected by a strong dysentery, to conclamare the reason of his statements and to define the success. The latter, in fact, was the event that laid the foundations for the birth of the first osteopathic schools and the fight to the official recognition of the same.
Then, what is Osteopathy? Osteopathy is that technique, which allows, through only the help of the hands of professional, the freeing of the skeletal structure, responsible for the support of all the elements which allow the correct operation, i.e. muscles, other structures in general, blood vessels and nerves.
2. “OSTEOPATHY” – BONES- THEN ONLY DIRECT AND NOISY MANIPULATIONS?
The noisy manipulations, those defined with the term “crack”, but technically known as “thrust”, are part of the myriad of techniques that a professionist can use to “free” the structure from one of its possible limitation, but are not the only ones.
The skeleton is kept in axis by the ligaments, and coordinated in motion by the action of the muscles. Therefore, often the osteopaths prefer to move through these two structures, through the so-called “indirect” techniques, to return the rigid structure to its physiologic harmony.
3. THE OSTEOPATH IS A CHIROPRACTOR?
Also in this case, the answer is no.
Chiropractic is a technique founded by Canadian Doctor Daniel David Palmer, lived between 1845 and 1913.
Basically, both as A.T. STILL, as D.D. Palmer, had the same intuition: eliminate the structural limitations. But while the first believed in the importance that this limitation did not involve the free flow of the blood in the blood vessels, in order to ensure an efficient supply of oxygen to the rest of the body, the second was searching simply that this block should not impinge on any nervous structure, causing an alteration of the electric pulse so much sensory (aches and paraesthesia), as motoric (hypotonia, atrophy, areflexia, iporeflessia and paresis).
Here is why the common goal contributes to the mixing of the two figures. But the techniques used by an osteopath, are not the same as those used by a chiropractor. Because although it appears tiny the difference of intent that exists between the two disciplines, it becomes a fundamental element of the way of proceeding of a professional: an osteopath can start from the cranial structure, to correct a banal ache of the shoulder, and, if not sufficient, proceed to examine organs such as the heart, stomach, pancreas and liver, until getting to evaluate the support at the level of the ankle, to make sure that all the body works in perfect harmony; a chiropractor, confines itself to liberate the nerve branches that affect the limb in question.
4. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OSTEOPATH, MASSAGER AND PHYSIOTERAPIST.
The osteopath uses only the help of hands to perform its therapy, but this does not make him a simple massager.
The osteopathic technique is a technique based on the biophysical laws of human anatomy. Every movement, each manipulation, both direct (Thrust), both indirect, these are meant to move in depth the key milestones which give stability, strength and agility to the whole organism, and to allow every single component or viscera to operate correctly, through a correct irrigation on the part of the blood vessels. It all cannot and must not be confused with a relaxing massage, energizing or decontracting one, which instead is interested in simply exerting an action on the muscle fibers, without taking account of everything that these rule or that passes through them.
In the same way, the osteopath must not be confused with the physiotherapist, which deals with the rehabilitation of all those structures which have suffered an injury, that with the simple manipulation is not possible to correct (serious injury ligamentous, severe inflammation at the level of the nerve fibers, serious lesions at the level of the muscle tissue, serious lesions at the level of the spine’s structures, etc.), and for which therefore becomes necessary the aid of suitable machinery (tecarterapy, electrical stimulation Transcutaneous Nerve – T.E.N.S., ultrasound, hydrotherapy, etc.).
5. OSTEOPATHY IS A MEDICAL SCIENCE?
Although osteopathy originate from studies, surveys and centuries of medical practices, the latter, even today, in some areas of the world, does not fall between the health sciences, and therefore is not recognized as medical science. As, on the contrary, for example, the figure of a physiotherapist.
Italy, is part of this case.
Other countries recognize its full effectiveness, especially as preventive therapy and healing in the above cases, therefore entitled to an official recognition that falls in a branch “para-health care”, which means “flanking” health techniques, together with techniques such as acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, Reiki, etc. An example of such countries are Spain, France and Germany.
Other still fully recognize Osteopathy as medical technique, without any exception of genre. Among these last, are included United States, Australia and New Zealand.
This difference implies a difference in terms of years of study, of recognition of schools through various institutions and opens new issues on the plane of recognition of qualifications at European level.
The associations are strugglimg to ensure that these bureaucratic dynamics soon will be clarified, both for the benefit of all the professionals of the sector both, in primis, for patients.
One thing is certain: be osteopaths, means that you have chosen to embrace a mission. The mission to return the welfare, to those who fear to have lost it.
If you are not clear in this, there is no year of study, nor diploma nor graduation, that makes of a professional, a true osteopath.