Manual Osteopath's identify, assess, and treat the body’s structures and rhythm using a gentle, hands-on approach. This fundamental technique is called osteopathic palpation. Manual Osteopath's develop a very sensitive sense of touch to master osteopathic palpation; this is what makes manual osteopathy different from other forms of therapy.
Soft Tissue Manipulation
The practitioner uses soft tissue manipulation in many different ways. In general, they use it to evaluate the condition of tissues and to help the body’s fluids (such as blood and lymphatic fluid) flow smoothly. Keeping fluids flowing smoothly reduces harmful fluid retention and makes the body’s immune system more effective. Fascia is tissue found in all parts of the body. It connects all of the body’s structures at both superficial and deep levels. Practitioners evaluate the fascia to find areas of restriction, and then use soft tissue manipulation to make sure the length and tension of the fascia are properly balanced. Throughout the treatment, manual osteopaths keep checking on the state of the body’s tissues. If one technique isn’t working to correct a restriction, they use another approach instead. Above all, manual osteopaths try to restore health without over-treating.
Osteopathic Articular Technique
Manual Osteopaths use this technique to reduce muscle spasms near a joint, ease neurological irritations around a joint, make joints more mobile and to reduce pain and discomfort. The articular technique involves gently moving two joint surfaces. Before doing this, Manual Osteopaths carefully prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area. They also move the patient into a position that will minimize, or eliminate the energy and force needed to perform the maneuver. Many patients find this technique less forceful than joint manipulations.
This is a gentle osteopathic technique, and it requires the most experience to use effectively. To learn this technique, Manual Osteopaths undergo intensive training. Through this training, their hands become sensitive to the cranial mobility and develop great precision in utilizing cranial techniques. Manual Osteopaths use this gentle technique to assess and treat the mobility of the skull and its contents. They may also use it to assess and treat the spine, the sacrum, and other parts of the body. The goal of this technique is to adjust the body’s physiology by restoring balance to the circulation of the blood and other body fluids. Manual Osteopaths do this by treating the body’s inherent biorhythm. They are able to feel this rhythm in the patient’s head, spinal cord, and in the sacrum and the rest of the body. Manual Osteopaths use the biorhythm to assess the patient’s condition, and they may modify it during treatment.
Manual Osteopaths use visceral manipulation to treat organs and viscera of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, bladder and uterus. Patients may feel pain in one or more of these organs, or the viscera may be less pliable than it should be. Manual Osteopaths gently move the structures themselves and the fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds them to restore full movement.
Most patients treated with visceral manipulation feel only gentle pressure of the Manual Osteopath’s hand, but the corrections are powerful enough to improve the mobility of an organ, improve blood flow, and help the organ function more effectively.
The above (and many other) osteopathic manual techniques and approaches are used in a coordinated and rational fashion to slowly adjust the patients anatomy and physiology towards normal, so that the patient’s body can heal itself.
*From the National Manual Osteopathic Society