Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and biopsychosocial standpoint and the manual methods of treatment, applied to the specific needs of the individual patient.
Osteopathic physicians take a whole persona approach to caring for patients. Instead of treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard the body as an integrated whole. It utilises a system of healthcare using manual methods of diagnosis and treatments that help to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms and achieve a better state of health. This integrative osteopathic approach encompasses structural, cranial, visceral and functional techniques.
The structural approach system used within osteopathy utilises the direct relationships between the bony articulations and the neuromuscular system, to restore mobility and physiological harmony between the moving parts. It utilises a variety of techniques including soft tissue mobilisation, ligamentous stretch techniques and high velocity short amplitude manipulations. It no longer works on the principles of bones being out of place, more that the normal structural relationships between the body parts are an essential requirement for health. The approach to Manipulative techniques in Osteopathic terms, focuses on the teaching of skills and hand holds which ensure operator and patient safety, control, specificity, and effectiveness. Manipulations should be gentle, not painful and specifically non-torsional, using multiple components. High velocity low amplitude techniques can provide rapid local mechanical changes, as well as wider more far-reaching effects throughout the circulatory, neuromuscular, skeletal and other systems in the body encompassed within Osteopathy.
Osteopaths are regulated healthcare professionals and are recognised as part of the group of allied healthcare professionals in the UK and Ireland.