Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ: Manual Osteopathy
Q: What is Manual Osteopathy?
Manual osteopathy (MO) is a complementary form of healing. It focuses on the interrelationship between the structure and function of the body. The goal is to work toward total body health through treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, which includes the joints, muscles, and spine. We aim to positively affect the body’s nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems. Using a subtle, hands-on technique called palpation, MO helps restore function in the body by treating the causes of pain and imbalance.
Q: Can I add manual osteopathy to my regular massage therapy treatment?
A: Yes, we offer manual osteopathy treatment in combination with massage therapy. These are often complementary treatments and can work in tandem to provide more thorough relief from ailments and conditions. It’s also a great option if you’d like to try MO for yourself, but you’re unsure about committing to an entire treatment session. You can learn more about the different types of massage treatments on our massage therapy services page.
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 identifies 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 using 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 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 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 reduces harmful fluid retention and improves the capabilities of the body’s immune system. Soft tissue manipulation works with the fascia, which is soft tissue that connects all of the body’s structures at superficial and deep levels. Practitioners evaluate the fascia to find areas of restriction and then use soft tissue manipulation to ensure 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’ll use another approach instead. Above all, manual osteopaths try to restore health without overtreating.
This is a very gentle osteopathic technique, and it requires the most experience to use effectively. 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 fluids. To learn this technique, manual osteopaths undergo intensive training to develop a precise cranial technique. Through this training, their hands become sensitive to cranial mobility so they can provide diagnoses and treatments. Manual osteopaths aim at treating the body’s inherent biorhythm. They are able to feel this rhythm in the client’s head, spinal cord, sacrum, and throughout the rest of the body, and can use the biorhythm to assess the patient’s condition and potentially modify it during treatment.
Manual osteopaths use visceral manipulation to treat the organs of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, bladder, and uterus. Clients may have been experiencing 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, increase blood flow, and help the organ function more effectively.
Q: Does Manual Osteopathy hurt?
Manual osteopathic treatments are not usually painful. However, depending on the condition we’re treating, some discomfort can’t be avoided. Most techniques are extremely gentle. In devising the treatment plan, the practitioner will look at the condition, symptoms, and the client’s general health and concerns. We won’t perform a procedure unless consent is given to proceed, and just like in massage therapy, you can let us know at any time if you’re uncomfortable or would like to stop or change the treatment.
Q: Do I have to remove all of my clothing for Manual Osteopathy?
No. Osteopathy is a manual medicine, so 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 with removing any or all items of clothing.
Q: What Is the Duration of a Treatment and How Many Are Necessary?
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 needed to reach the expected results can vary based on the nature of the problem and its associated conditions.
Q: How will I feel after treatment?
Following your initial osteopathy treatment, your body will be in a process of readjustment for the next 3-4 days. For this reason, we recommend that you avoid any intense activities for a few days.
Each client is different and will have a different experience; it really depends on the individual, the imbalance, and the treatment type you receive.
Some people may feel the benefits of the treatment right away, which would indicate that your body revealed the primary cause of your imbalance during treatment.
The opposite is also possible. In this case, you may feel worse and experience more symptoms (or new ones) within the 3-4 days of the recovery process. This indicates that your body is liberating the tensions or toxins stored. After four days, the symptoms should become less intense, as your body begins to heal and rebalance. If the intensity of the symptoms persists after five days, you’ll need to contact your osteopathic practitioner as soon as possible, as your body is not able to find its balance on its own and an additional treatment will be required to facilitate it.
You could also feel as if nothing has changed. If this is your experience, it’s 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.
No matter how you feel after treatment, 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. After treatment, a lot more of these toxins have been released, so it’s very important to help your body flush them out.
Q: Is manual osteopathy treatment safe?
Manual osteopathy is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapy available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal and joint complaints. Although manual osteopathy has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free from potential adverse effects.
However, the risks associated with MO 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?
Yes, children can benefit from manual osteopathy care. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from daily life and from playing sports. These injuries 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?
You don’t typically need a physician’s referral 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 call and schedule an appointment with a manual osteopath without any additional paperwork.
Q: What is the difference between a Manual Osteopath and a Chiropractor?
A: Osteopathy was founded 21 years before the chiropractic discipline. Although they work toward some of the same goals, there are some important differences to note:
- Chiropractors tend to focus mainly (but not exclusively) on the alignment of the spine as the primary means to relieve pain. They achieve this 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. Meanwhile, 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. Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) are the only two types of physicians that are fully trained and licensed to order required laboratory or diagnostic procedures, prescribe medication, perform surgery, and deliver babies. They may also use 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.
Our manual osteopathic treatments at Urban Massage and Wellness are performed by skilled therapists (not MDs or DOs) who have attended hands-on training for the techniques being used.
Q: How much does manual osteopathy cost?
A: Manual osteopathy costs depend on the length of the treatment. You can view pricing for manual osteopathy and all other services on our pricing page.
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 aren’t sure about your coverage before you book or arrive.
***Please note that direct billing is not available for MO treatments. Payment is due at the time of treatment, and you will be given a receipt to submit for reimbursement from your provider.
We accept cash, debit, MasterCard & Visa at our clinic.
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