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Osteopathy Introduction PDF Print

Osteopathy is a complementary medicine discipline. Osteopaths use a variety of manipulative techniques to assist the restorative function of the body to heal itself. Osteopaths practice as prime contact practitioners in Australia. Prospective patients do not require a medical referral. In Australia Medical Insurance Funds offer Ancillary cover for treatments by Registered Osteopaths.


Osteopathic Philosophy PDF Print

Osteopathy is both a medical science and an art with a wholistic view that the body is designed to maintain health through the continuance of the balanced interdependence of structure and function. It originated with Andrew Taylor Still, a medical doctor in the USA in the late 19th century. It is supported by an ever expanding body of scientific knowledge. Its philosophy may be summarized as

  • The human being is a dynamic unit of function and possesses a range of self-regulatory mechanisms that lead to self healing
  • There is an inter-relationship between the structure and function that may be observed in every living organism

Osteopaths base their treatment on an examination and assessment using the above principles. They employ a number of tested techniques that have been developed to restore the structure, and therefore function, into balance. The techniques used fall into two broad categories.

Direct manipulative techniques applied to the spine and other joints.

These include:

High Velocity Low Amplitude Thrust techniques or HVLA. Sometimes referred to as ‘cracking’ techniques as a crepitation or ‘popping’ sound is often heard, the origin of these techniques belongs to no one person in history.

Many cultures of the world have a history of physical manipulative techniques within their indigenous health care system.

These techniques have similarities irrespective of their country of origin. The techniques have been popular among Chiropractors, Osteopaths and some Physiotherapists. HVLA is a controversial approach particularly with children, the elderly and when applied to the neck. It is not practiced at this clinic.

Muscle Energy Technique or MET as developed by Fred Mitchell, where the body is positioned similarly to that required in the HVLA technique and held whilst the ‘adjustment’ occurs more slowly than with thrust.

Soft methods that may be direct or indirect

These include:

Soft Tissue techniques such as massage, Balanced Ligamentous Tension or BLT, and arguably the most powerful of these, Bowen technique developed by Tom Bowen.

Mobilization of joints. This may be direct such as in repeated bending and straightening of a joint or indirect through exercises.

Postural based techniques such as the Feldenkrais approach, Isogai dynamic therapy, postural release through Strain or Counter-Strain as developed by Lawrence Jones, etc. Postural techniques are numerous.

Cranial Osteopathy. Sometimes known as Cranio-Sacral Technique or CST. The development of this group of techniques goes back to an osteopath named William Sutherland who studied Osteopathy at the College started by Still. Variations exist but the essence is that there is a rhythm within the cerebro spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and that this rhythm produces gentle motion that can be both felt and influenced through gentle pressure to the joints of the skull, the sacrum and many peripheral joints. He believed this rhythm to be synchronized with the primary respiratory mechanism. There are many excellent practitioners, teachers and texts covering this effective technique.

Visceral Osteopathy. This again consists of a variety of approaches aimed at restoration of normal but subtle motion of the internal organs of the body. This restoration of motion leads to an improvement in function of the organ treated. Most of these techniques are applied through contact with the abdomen. They are generally gentle and painless.



Somatic Dysfunction PDF Print

The term osteopathic lesion was originally used to describe a localized structural fault. In more recent years the term somatic dysfunction has replaced this historical term. This term is in common use among a range of body therapists and is understood by the medical profession. It has been defined as impaired or altered function of related components of the body’s muscular-skeletal framework. It includes the skeletal system, joint and muscle structures and their related vascular, lymphatic, organ and nervous system connections. To the Osteopath areas of somatic dysfunction are characterized by

  • Hyper or hypo mobility
  • Positional faults
  • Pain and/or tenderness
  • Muscular tension
  • Reflex changes in skin and muscle including vasomotor and visceromotor changes


Objectives of Osteopathic Therapy PDF Print

Structural imbalance as shown by somatic dysfunctional change is progressive if left untreated. Depending on when a patient consults an osteopath, intervention may occur at one of three stages within that progression.

  1. Prophylaxis – the treatment of all predisposing mechanical problems, at an early stage in their appearance, so that degeneration is prevented. An example of this might be in the case of a restricted shoulder function due to strain. Untreated the reduced movement will lead to degenerative change or arthritis in the shoulder joint.
  2. Correction and adaptation as far as is possible where degeneration has taken place.
  3. Compensation for permanent structural disability as best as can be achieved.

In all cases there is an emphasis on the role of self management by the patient through exercise and appropriate lifestyle changes.


Effects of Osteopathic Therapy PDF Print
  • Pain relief,
  • Improvement in joint mechanics and co-ordination,
  • Restoration of motion, normal sensory input and the re-establishment of healthy reflex motor function,
  • Balanced muscle tone,
  • Reduction of asymmetric biomechanical stress, muscle spasm and oedema,
  • Improved joint nutrition,
  • Promotion of tissue healing,
  • Slowing the progression of degenerative change.
Further Information PDF Print

Dr Ryan has developed an approach to osteopathic care that is both direct and gentle. He has a particular interest in the muscular skeletal changes apparent in disabilities including those arising from

  • Neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's and Motor Neurone diseases,
  • Post brain surgery conditions
  • Stroke related conditions
  • Spinal injury cases including paraplegia and quadriplegia.

He has a particular interest in the application of osteopathic principles in the treatment of the muscular skeletal component of a wide range of childhood (pediatric) conditions including:

  • Birth trauma, colic, reflux and poor sucking
  • Some food intolerance conditions in children
  • Bed wetting
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • spinal bifida,
  • global developmental delay
  • Closed head injury
  • Walking and mobility problems



Further information about osteopathy may be found at the web site: www.osteopathic.com.au



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