Information & Resources
Introduction What is
Why Choose An
What Happens In
How Does The Body
illnesses treated with
How Long Does It
Take To Get Better?
What are Essential
Is All the Hype True?
© Leon Chaitow N.D., D.O., M.R.O.
If you have ever had an aching back, stiff neck,
tennis elbow, 'gammy' knee or
from Osteopathy: A Complete Health Care System )
some such affliction of the body, then the
chances are that you have sought the help
of, or have been advised by
someone to go to, an osteopath for relief. If, however,
you have, or
have had, a more serious health problem such as asthma, migraine
headaches, angina pains, digestive disturbances (to name but a few
then it has probably not occurred to you that the condition
might have some of its
origins in a dysfunction of some mechanical
component of the body, the musculo-
skeletal system. You would,
therefore, probably not have taken such a problem to
practitioner. Surprising as it may seem, many such 'illnesses' are often
the end result of biomechanical changes in the structure of the body
amenable to osteopathic treatment. This theme will be
elaborated on in later
chapters, and some of the fascinating research
that has been done in a wide range
of health problems will be detailed.
At this stage, the idea of osteopathy offering
help to conditions other
than the more obvious aches and pains may seem a
strange one. In order
to understand the concept of osteopathy, and what its real
are, it is necessary to examine its roots and subsequent development.
Osteopathy is a system of health care which recognizes that
self-healing, self-regulating ability of the body is
dependent upon a
number of factors, including favourable
(internal and external), adequate
nutrition and normal structural
integrity. It utilizes generally
accepted methods of diagnosis, as well
as certain specialised ones developed
to facilitate accurate structural
assessment. It places special emphasis upon the
importance of body
mechanics, and uses manipulative techniques to detect and
faulty structure and function.
In many people's minds, especially in the U.K., osteopathy is equated
the treatment of spinal and other joint pains and problems.
This limited care
concept is largely an historical accident. As
indicated above, the osteopathic
profession sees itself as being
relevant to a wide range of health problems, and
not simply limited to
the treatment of musculo-skeletal derangements. Since the
turn of the
century, when the first American-trained osteopaths established
in practice in the U.K., they have filled a gap that existed
(and to a large extent still
exists) in medical practice. Doctors tended
to regard musculo-skeletal problems
as relatively unimportant, and
manipulation as, at best, an unknown quantity and,
at worst, valueless
Osteopathic theory and practice are firmly in line with the concepts
The patient is considered and treated as a whole.
Founded as it was in this tradition,
osteopathy is patient orientated
rather than disease orientated. It has utilized
structural diagnosis and
manipulative therapy as part of its philosophy and practice,
therefore as part of total patient care, not confining it to painful
conditions of the musculo-skeletal system alone.
In essence the original concept of osteopathy held that:
- Within the human body there exists a constant tendency towards
If this capacity is recognized, and if treatment takes its
account, then the prevention and normalization of
disease processes is
- The structure of the body is reciprocally related to its function.
By this it is
meant that any change in structure will alter some
aspect of function and,
conversely, any alteration in function will
result in structural changes.
- Health is the primary area to be studied in attempting to
- The musculo-skeletal system, which incorporates the bones,
muscles, fascia etc. forms a structure which, when
disordered, may affect the
function of other parts and systems of
the body. This might be the result of
irritation or abnormal
response of the nerve and/or blood supply to these
other organs or
- The body is subject to mechanical disorder and is therefore
Osteopathy (including Cranial Osteopathy) takes advantage of the
tendency to strive toward a state of health and homeostasis. A much in demand
specialty, the Osteopath is trained to
palpate (feel) the body's "living anatomy"
(i.e. flow of
fluids, motion and texture of tissues, and structural makeup). They
address health problems with a non-invasive system of medicine called,
"Osteopathic Manual Medicine" in order to restore normal
function in areas
impaired by trauma, chronic illness, acute health
This Site offers an explanation of traditional Osteopathic medicine
in the treatment
of a myriad of health problems, cases of typical
medical problems resolved through
treatment, the history of this medical
specialty, and insights in research in Cranial
Osteopathy is the knowledge of the structure, relation and
function of each part
of the human body applied to the
adjustment or correction of whatever interferes
harmonious operation of the same.
George V. Webster, D.O. 1921
Why Choose An Osteopath?
Millions of patients today are turning to Osteopaths as their
physicians of choice.
They recognize that a DO, doctor of osteopathy,
offers a variety of non invasive
healing treatments not available from
allopathic (conventional) doctors.
Long before it was fashionable, DOs advised their patients that the
are contained in the body's immune system. So
strongly do Osteopaths believe in
the body's innate healing ability that
many have devoted years of additional
training, after medical school, to
specialize in Osteopathic Manual Medicine (OMM).
Are You A Real Doctor?
DOs and MDs are both fully licensed physicians who are authorized to
medication and perform surgery.
While attending their own medical schools, DOs are responsible for
academic discipline as their MD colleagues and receive an
additional 300 to 500
hours in the study of the body's musculoskeletal
system. Physicians who wish to
pursue the field of Cranial
Osteopathy must train an additional five years in practice
certified in this area of expertise.
How Does Osteopathy Work?
Osteopaths hold to the common sense principle that a patient's
history of illnesses
and physical traumas are written into the body's
structure. It is the Osteopath's highly
developed sense of touch that
allows the physician to palpate (feel) the patient's "
anatomy" (i.e. flow of fluids, motion of tissues, and structural
In more clinical terms, a DO can even detect physical problems
that fail to appear
on an X-ray.
The Osteopath's job is to "set" the body up to heal itself.
To restore this normal
function, the Osteopath gently applies a precise
amount of force to promote
movement of the bodily fluids, eliminate
dysfunction in the motion of the tissues,
and release compressed bones
and joints. In addition, the areas being treated
positioning to assist the body's ability to regain normal tissue
function. This treatment modality is called Osteopathic
Manual Medicine (OMM).
What Happens In Treatment?
After a thorough evaluation, the patient lies down on the examination
table ready for
treatment. DOs treat the dysfunction in the patient's
body taking advantage of the
body's natural tendency to strive toward a
state of health and homeostasis.
Many patients frequently report feeling a deep sense of relaxation,
flow of fluids as their pain is relieved.
Although treatment varies, Osteopaths primarily concentrate on
body's "mechanism" or put in more clinical
terms, The Five
Components of the
Primary Respiratory Mechanism .
Since the late 1800s, Osteopaths have been able to successfully
treat medical problems with their hands, much to the
disbelief of their MD colleagues.
How Does The Body Treat Itself?
motion of the brain and spinal cord along with that of normal
is transmitted to the rest of the body through the continuity
of membranes (dura and
fascia). Fascia is literally one piece of
connective tissue that lines the body cavities,
surrounds all the
muscles, organs, bones, vessels, and nerves, somewhat like a
of shrinkwrap. The fascia is continuous with the membranes that
the brain and spinal cord (meninges), thus allowing the different
(and tension) of the body to be transmitted everywhere. This
motion gently pulls
and lets go on all the areas of the body in order to
work strains and tissue restrictions
structurally free. This is enhanced
when a person sleeps as the affects of gravity
What Does Osteopathy Treat?
Treatment is aimed at the structural problems present, not the
disease entity. By
removing the obstructions to health, Osteopathic
Physicians are able to treat virtually
any illness or trauma. Their
philosophy is the body is a unit whose parts integrally
other. Therefore, dysfunction in one area affects other areas as well.
For example a young man suffering from pain due to a cervical disc
to know why his practitioner was spending time treating
his legs when it was his
neck that hurt. The doctor explained that due
to a past traumas the man's legs was
pulling on his neck, restricting
its motion, and that unless he freed up the area, the
persist. Much to the patient's amazement, a great deal of his pain
disappeared, before his neck was treated.
Some common illnesses treated with Osteopathy include:
Chronic Infectious Disease
Joint Pain Syndrome
Post Concussion Syndrome
Ear Nose Throat Problems
Chronic Ear Infection
Recurrent Sore Throats
How Long Does It Take To Get Better?
A chronic condition often takes years to develop. With this in mind,
it stands to
reason that it will require time to resolve: the ratio is
often one month of treatment for
every year of illness. (Although every
body has its own time table, this is the average
course of treatment).
For a patient with an acute problem (flu, muscle strain, etc.), the
course of treatment is shorter because the condition is not as deep as a
illness. Much is also dependent on a patient's level of vitality
(i.e. immune system).
In other words, a patient in generally good health
will respond more quickly to
treatment than a patient with lower
vitality (i.e. weakened immune system).
How Popular Is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy has changed the lives of such well-known figures as John
Henry Kissinger former presidents Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower
and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The growing
demand for Osteopathic services
among our population reflects an
increasing desire by patients to resolve health
problems without drugs
or surgery. Osteopathic Medicine continues to gain national
and remains the fastest growing health profession in the nation.
How Did Osteopathy Begin?
Civil War Surgeon Andrew
Still, MD (1828 to 1917) founded Osteopathy on the
the best way to fight disease was by naturally stimulating the body's
immune system. In the late 1800s, Dr. Still broke from traditional
medicine when he
decried the widespread practice of purging and
leeching. For his efforts, Dr. Still
was ostracized from his profession.
But, undeterred, Dr. Still spent years developing
a healing science that
could restore normal function and freedom of tissues through
practitioner's sensitive manual diagnosis and manipulation of tissues
He founded a school for osteopaths over the objections of his
colleagues. Dr. Still
maintains a loyal following of physicians
throughout the world. His work has been
advanced by several
generations of Osteopaths. Their reward for practicing
been the recovery and well being of many of their patients.
What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and
which lays its main emphasis on the structural and
functional integrity of the body.
It is distinctive by the fact
that it recognises that much of the pain and disability
suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body
as well as damage caused to it by disease.
[Description by General Osteopathic Council, 28th October 1998]
What kinds of problems can osteopathy help with?
Whilst back pain is the most common problem seen, osteopathy
can help with a
wide varied of problems including changes to
posture in pregnancy, babies with
colic or sleeplessness,
repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving
work strain, children with glue ear, the pain of arthritis and
sports injuries among
many others. Leaflets explaining many of the
common treatments used are available
from the Osteopathic
What can I expect when I visit an osteopath?
When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case
history will be taken and
you will be given an examination. You
will normally be asked to remove some of
your clothing and to
perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then
a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify
any points of
weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.
The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray
or blood tests.
This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable
treatment plan to be developed for you.
How much do treatments cost?
Treatments are approximately ฃ20-ฃ30 for 30 40 minute
Often the first session is longer and may cost
How many treatments will I need?
Osteopathy is patient centred, which means treatment is geared
to you as an
individual. Your osteopath should be able to give you
an indication after your first
visit. For some acute pain one or
two treatments may be all that is necessary.
may need ongoing maintenance. An average is 6 8 sessions.
Do I need a referral from my GP?
A formal referral from your GP is not necessary, the majority
of osteopathic patients
How does osteopathy work?
Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide variety of
These may include soft tissue techniques,
rhythmic passive joint mobilisation or the
high velocity thrust
techniques designed to improve mobility and the range of
of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used,
treating children or elderly patients. This
allows the body to return to efficient normal
How can I be sure I am in safe hands when visiting an
Osteopath has demonstrated to the General Osteopathic Council
a detailed application process that they are a safe and
competent practitioner, that
they have adequate malpractice
insurance and have agreed to abide by a
I have noticed many osteopaths have the letters DO and/or
after their names what does this mean?
These are osteopathic qualifications. The DO stands for diploma
the BSc is a degree in osteopathy. The length of
training is the same for both, at
least four years full-time
training. The diploma course has been around the longest
recently some courses have been validated by universities allowing
them to offer
their students degree passes.
Can I have osteopathic treatment on the NHS?
Most people consult an osteopath privately. Telephone local
practices to find out
about fees in your area. An increasing
number of osteopaths work with GP practices
so that it may be
possible for your doctor to refer you to an osteopath on the NHS.
Can I have osteopathy on my private medical insurance?
Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for
Some companies will reimburse the total fee
or pay a percentage of the costs.
Contact the helpline of your
insurance company who will explain the actual benefits
of claim for your individual policy.
What should I do if I am unhappy with my osteopathic
Often problems are caused by misunderstandings and can easily
be resolved by
discussing your concerns with the osteopath
directly. If this does not resolve the
problem or your concerns
are of a more serious nature the GOsC has a
of Practice which patients may refer to.
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