Manual Osteopathy FAQ

Q: What is Manual Osteopathy?

A: Manual Osteopathy is a complementary form of healing which emphasizes the interrelationship between structure and function of the body. The focus is on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, which includes the joints, muscles and spine. Its aim is to positively affect the body’s nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems. Using a subtle, hands on technique called palpation, it aims to restore function in the body by treating the causes of pain and imbalance.

Q: What do Manual Osteopaths do?

A: Manual osteopaths identify, assess, and treat the body’s structures and rhythms using a gentle, hands-on approach. This fundamental technique is called osteopathic palpation. Manual osteopaths develop a very sensitive sense of touch to master osteopathic palpation. By ‘listening’ to the body, palpation is used to identify issues such as congestion, dehydration, scarring and stiffness, while restoring proper function to bones, muscles, fluids and organs.

Q: What techniques do Manual Osteopaths use?

A: Manual Osteopaths use a variety of techniques to address imbalances in the body, from a whole body perspective.

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 2 joint surfaces. Before doing this, manual osteopaths carefully prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area. They also move the client into a position that will minimize, or eliminate the energy and force needed to perform the maneuver. Many clients find this technique less forceful than joint manipulations.

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.

Cranial Osteopathy:
This is a very 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 client’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.

Visceral Manipulation:
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. Clients 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 clients treated with visceral manipulation feel only the 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.

Q: Does Manual Osteopathy hurt?

A: Manual osteopathic treatments are not usually painful, though the nature of the presenting condition may be such that some discomfort cannot be avoided. Most techniques are extremely gentle. In devising the treatment plan, the practitioner will take into account the nature of the condition, symptoms and the client’s general health and concerns and not perform a procedure unless consent is given to proceed.

Q: Do I have to remove all of my clothing for Manual Osteopathy?

A: No, as osteopathy is a manual medicine, treatment is hands on, and usually involves moving various parts of your body. Make sure you wear loose, comfortable clothing. Depending on the area being looked at, it may be necessary to undress down to your underwear so sports bras are recommended for females and shorts for both males and females. Please speak to your Manual Osteopath if you feel uncomfortable in any way.

Q: What Is the Duration of a Treatment and How Many Are Necessary?

A: A treatment session can vary depending on the nature of the problem and the general state of the patient. We recommend 60 minutes for the initial consultation/treatment with subsequent sessions ranging from 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. The number of treatments required to obtain expected results can vary according to the nature of the problem and its associated conditions.

Q: How will I feel after treatment?

A: Following your initial Osteopathy treatment, your body will be in a process of readjustment for the next 3-4 days. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid any intense interventions or activities during this period.
Each client is different and will have a different experience, it really depends on the individual, the imbalance as well as the treatment you receive.

Some may feel the benefits of the treatment right away which would indicate that your body revealed the primary cause of your imbalance.

There is also the opposite effect where you may feel worse and experience more symptoms or new ones within 3-4 days of the recovery process. This indicates that your body is liberating the tensions or toxins stored. After 4 days, the symptoms should become less intense, as your body is healing and rebalancing. If the intensity of the symptoms persists after 5 days, you need to contact your Osteopathic practitioner as soon as possible, as your body is not able to find it’s balance on its own and an additional treatment is required to facilitate it.

You could also feel as if nothing has changed. This is just an impression. If this is your experience it is important to look specifically for changes in intensity or the frequency of the symptoms that were originally present prior to your treatment. Your body will require more work to find the primary cause of your symptoms and restore balance.
In any circumstance, we recommend an increase in your water intake to help the kidneys and other organs process the various substances which move through the body on a regular basis and after a treatment, a lot of toxins have been released, so you need to flush them out.

Q: Is manual osteopathy treatment safe?

A: Manual osteopathy is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal and joint complaints. Although manual osteopathy has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with MO, however, are very small. Many clients feel immediate relief following treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise or massage. Current literature shows that minor discomfort or soreness following soft tissue therapy typically fades within 24 hours.

Q: Is manual osteopathic treatment appropriate for children?

A: Yes, children can benefit from manual osteopathy care. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports. Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including back and neck pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Manual osteopathy care is always adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly skilled treatment, and in the case of children, very gentle.

Q: Does manual osteopathic treatment require a referral from a medical doctor?

A: A referral is usually not needed to see a manual osteopath; however, your health plan insurer may have specific referral requirements. You may want to contact your employer’s human resources department—or the insurance plan provider directly—to find out if there are any referral requirements. Most plans allow you to just call and schedule an appointment with a manual osteopath.

Q: What is the difference between a Manual Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

A: -Osteopathy was founded twenty one years before the chiropractic discipline.
-Chiropractors tend to focus mainly (but not exclusively) on the alignment of the spine as the primary means to relieve pain by preventing any compromise of the nervous system, whereas manual osteopaths look at the body as a whole and help improve its function by correcting the overall structure.
-Manual Osteopaths treat a broader range of functional problems, including issues such as circulatory and digestive system disorders.
Chiropractors use more diagnostic procedures such as X-rays, MRI scans, blood tests and urine tests, whereas osteopaths place more emphasis on physical examination, and will generally refer patients on for more diagnostic procedures if required.
-Manual Osteopaths tend to use a greater variety of techniques to influence the body’s own innate healing system such as muscle and soft tissue work, joint articulation and manipulation, whereas chiropractors use a wider number of techniques for the “adjustment” on the vertebrae, similar to manual osteopathic manipulation, to facilitate optimal nerve transition.
-Chiropractic appointments tend to be shorter (in most cases) as they primarily focus on adjustment techniques which are quicker to carry out.
-Manual Osteopaths spend more time with their patients per visit as their approach is broader and treatments tend to be spaced out over a longer period of time.
-Chiropractors tend to see patients more frequently.

Q: What is the difference between a Medical Osteopath and a Manual Osteopath?

A: In Canada and the US osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical practice in both countries. Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) are the only two types of complete physicians in North America. They are fully trained and licensed to order any required laboratory or diagnostic procedures, prescribe medication, perform surgery, deliver babies and may utilize their training as a prerequisite to specialize in other branches of medicine. There are currently 29 accredited Osteopathic Medical Schools in the US and none in Canada. These DOs are recognized as osteopathic physicians and are the only ones legally able to call themselves osteopaths.

Q: Is Manual Osteopathy covered by insurance?

A: Yes, most insurance companies who provide chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage coverage also provide osteopathic coverage. Check your policy if you are unsure. It is the clients responsibility to know their own insurance policies.

***Please note that MO treatments are not able to be Direct Billed. Payment is due at time of treatment and you will be given a receipt to submit for reimbursement.

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