Osteopathy – how the treatment works

Osteopathy is a medical theory that was developed in the 1800s. It is practiced by an osteopath who performs a treatment and examination manually. This involves primarily using your hands. Osteopathy sees the body as a holistic entity, where all of the parts are interconnected and affect each other. By treating one part of the body, other parts of the body can also be affected. The treatments involve manual manipulation of the musculoskeletal system. This is combined with advice regarding exercise, diet and posture. However, there is no scientific evidence to support osteopathy. In Sweden, osteopathy is considered an alternative form of medicine and is not subject to supervision by the National Board of Health and Welfare.

Areas treated

Persons who suffer from chronic or temporary pain in the back and neck, joint pain or headaches can visit a osteopath. You can also get help with difficulty breathing or swallowing and other functional disorders. The goal is to treat the body as a whole entity and there are several treatment methods in this field, including other methods that can stimulate the nerves and blood and lymph circulation.

What does an osteopath do?

This occupational group can adjust the spine, mobilize joints and treat soft tissues as needed. Which treatment method should be used is determined based on individual cases and based on the discomfort and complaints of the affected person, as well as their body structure and individual needs. An osteopath uses different techniques that are targeted at the ligaments and muscles, etc. The idea is create the conditions that allow the body to heal itself.

What treatment is like

When you first visit an osteopath, you will describe your medical history. First you have to fill in a form that is followed up by a verbal interview. Then, it is time to start a physical examination. The therapist then places their hands on the body of the affected person and over the affected area. Preliminary diagnoses are made that are confirmed with different tests.

Because an osteopath works within a broad area, it is suitable for several different problem areas. Trying to adjust the spine and mobilize the joints is common. In terms of mobilizing the joints, the theory behind osteopathy is to twist a joint in different directions to get more movement in the joint and to increase circulation. Common problems that are treated with osteopathy include work-related, overstrain injuries. 

Pressure and stretching

Osteopaths usually treat pain in the muscles and periosteum through pressure and stretching. By stretching joints and muscles as recommended by osteopaths, pain can be reduced and range of motion can be improved. The treatment can also allow the injured person to use their muscle strength against resistance or the reverse. Everything in osteopathy is based on the body and what the affected person can manage.

Osteopathy for arthritis

Since osteoarthritis usually develops after long-term and incorrect strain on the joints, osteopaths feel that they can help the affected person by retraining movement or stress patterns that are the reason that the cartilage wore out. Exactly how effective this type of treatment is for osteoarthritis has not been scientifically proven. The primary type of treatment for osteoarthritis is currently guided exercises, which does have scientific support behind it. Exercise for osteoarthritis should be performed together with a physiotherapist (physical therapist).

Read more about MSM treatment for osteoarthritis.