What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a practical form of health care that treats the body as a whole. Osteopathy is a hands on treatment that works on the physical body to allow it to return to good health. Osteopathy was defined by Dr A.T.Still in Missouri, USA, in the mid 1800’s and has been used in New Zealand since the 1930’s.
Who can Osteopaths treat?
Osteopaths can treat any person of any age from the newborn to the very old. Young children, older people and people in a fragile state are treated using Cranial Osteopathy, while most people respond to structural treatment.
What conditions can Osteopathy treat?
Osteopaths treat a wide range of problems that the body suffers throughout life.These range from the acute pains caused through injury or trauma, to the chronic pains caused by occupational stress and repetitive strains. Other conditions which often get a medical label on them, such as asthma (breathing problems), hypertension (high blood pressure), cephalalgia (headaches) and a host of others, all have a structural component that can be treated by an osteopath.
Osteopathic medicine is very effective in treating the problems that develop during pregnancy and early childhood and is particularly appropriate following childbirth to prevent post natal depression and to assist in regaining normal hormone levels. Osteopathic treatment can be used in conjunction with your normal medication and can be adapted to treat any age or condition.
What happens at an appointment with an Osteopath?
The Osteopath will discuss with you the problem you have and will ask questions about your general health and lifestyle and may take your blood pressure and test your coordination and reflexes. The Osteopath will use their hands to test the way your bones, muscles and body moves to find the area that needs to be treated. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove some of your outer clothes so a clearer view of the body can be obtained.
They will tell you what they have found and outline how they could treat you, what the outcome should be, and how you feel as the treatment progresses. They will carry out the treatment that has been agreed on. You may be advised on any things you could do to prevent the condition returning.
How much does Osteopathic treatment cost?
Osteopathic treatments vary depending on where you live in New Zealand but should reflect the normal costs that it will be charged to visit a G.P. Some specialised treatments may take a longer time and the charge will reflect this. When you make an appointment you should discuss the charge with the practitioner. If you have a problem that is related to an accident, then ACC will cover part of the cost. An ACC form will need to be filled out during the consultation, and if you live at a distance from the treatment provider, you may be able to claim travel costs.
Osteopathy and headaches?
Because headaches are so common, some people think they are a normal part of life, but for the regular sufferer it can be very debilitating. Taking painkillers might give some relief from your headaches, but they do not always address the cause of the problem. The pain can be felt at the front, the back, behind the eyes, on just one side or all over the head. Other symptoms may be present in conjuction with the headache such as nausea, dizziness, visual changes, jaw or neck pain… the list goes on.
There are many potential causes of headaches like illness, high blood pressure, dental problems, side effects from medication, etc. However, a vastly underestimated cause of headaches is structural problems in the neck and upper back. Mechanical stress from neck problems can affect the nerves of the face, head and neck and when the spinal nerves and associated tissues are stretched or irritated, they too produce throbbing headaches.
Common causes of tension headaches
A common presentation with headache is an increase in the muscle tension at the base of the skull with pain felt locally and frequently it is also felt in the forehead and eye area. The tightened muscles and joint restrictions in the upper neck (from poor posture, stress, injury etc..) contribute to decreased mobility, irritation of local nerves and reduced blood flow.
How can osteopathy help you with headaches?
An Osteopath is a primary health care Practitioner who has the appropriate skills and knowledge to assess your complaint and decide the most effective course of treatment. Most osteopaths spend two thirds of their time helping people with neck and back problems and hence they are experts in identifying when a structural dysfunction may be the cause of headaches. Osteopaths assess structural changes that may lead to immobility and dysfunction. They do a thorough physical examination that includes both observation and palpation, to form a diagnosis.
An Osteopath will work gently with your body using a variety of techniques to:
- Improve joint mobility.
- Decrease muscular tension.
- Reduce nerve irritation.
- Improve blood supply and drainage to and from the head and neck.
- Help prevent future headaches with advice on posture, exercises and stretching.
- Give advice on diet and fluid intake.
- Provide advice on improving ergonomics at both home and in the workplace.
Osteopathy and Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a special time for women and their partners. It is a time when your focus in life shifts to the care and nurturing of a developing human being. If you are planning on a child, consider having your body assessed by an Osteopath as they can help prepare your body for this time. If you are already pregnant and uncomfortable, Osteopathy is a gentle treatment that may ease your pain and improve your health.
Some mothers experience pregnancy as a blissful time where their skin glows and they are feeling happier and healthier.
Many mothers however find pregnancy can be fraught with pain, discomforts and varied complications. This often relates to existing back problems or strains from past accidents or traumas. As the pregnancy develops, it may be more difficult for the mother to accommodate to the changes resulting in increased discomfort and pain.
Pregnancy is a time when you want your body to function at an optimum level so that you are comfortable, your baby is healthy and your delivery is as uncomplicated as possible. This is where your Osteopath can help.
How can osteopathy help during pregnancy?
During pregnancy it is important that you can move freely. To move freely the joints in your body need to have their full range of motion and your tissues need appropriate fluid flow.
This means that oxygen rich blood can nourish your cells and that of your baby, that veins can drain used blood back to the heart and your lymphatic vessels can absorb fluids containing waste products and ensure normal immune responses to bugs in your body. It is important that you can breathe properly, that your body can accommodate the change in posture that occurs as your baby develops and that your pelvis and spine are in their optimal functioning state. Gentle hands-on Osteopathic procedures aim to maximise your joint function, remove any obstruction to normal fluid flow and ensure balance within your body.
Osteopathy can help prevent and ease conditions such as leg swelling where the fluids are not draining, morning sickness associated with the change in your hormonal profile, dizziness which can be associated to changes in your blood pressure, shortness of breath, back pain and pubic pain as your posture changes.
Osteopathy can also prepare you for your delivery. Giving birth is a natural process and women’s bodies are designed for this function. Pre-existing imbalances of your spine and pelvis and decreased ability to breathe can impact on the ease of your labour. Osteopathy can help restore the function of your spine and pelvis to optimise your potential for a natural uncomplicated birth.
Osteopathy is a safe treatment for you and your baby at all stages of your pregnancy.
Osteopathy and asthma?
An osteopath can assist asthma sufferers by gently working with the body’s structure to improve and enhance the breathing mechanism by;
- Relaxing the respiratory muscles
- Freeing restrictions of the chest, ribs and spine
- Improving lymphatic drainage from the lungs and airways
- Enhancing the blood supply to the chest region
The osteopath will use a variety of manual techniques to achieve the above, including soft tissue stretching and massage, along with articulation and mobilisation of the joints. Other areas of management include the formulation of an individual exercise program, with emphasis on breathing exercises and the avoidance of aggravating factors. The Osteopath may also provide advice on diet, posture, lifestyle and first aid measures during an attack.
Osteopathy does not replace conventional medicine for asthma. Osteopathy works well in conjunction with other health care professionals, with the longterm aim of improving the person’s quality of life and helping to reduce the negative effects of Asthma.
Osteopathy and children?
Osteopathy is very gentle, safe and effective in the treatment of babies and children that have suffered trauma either from birth or during the rough and tumble of early years. The Osteopath will gently apply specific pressures allowing the child’s body to let go of the stress and strains that have occurred from these traumas.
The baby or child’s response is sometimes immediate and others will require a series of treatments to correct the problem. In all cases there should be noticeable improvement in the child’s demeanour and this usually shows as a much more relaxed child.
Every child is different and every child needs to be individually assessed so a treatment programme can be worked out so the child gets maximum benefit.
Your Osteopath should advise you on their findings and they should describe to you how they propose to correct these problems and the results that should be obtained after each treatment.