What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy or osteopathic healthcare is a recognised and evidence based system of assessment, diagnosis and management that can be applied across a wide range of medical conditions. It is based on the principle that the structure and the functions of the body are closely integrated and that our wellbeing requires all our body its systems to work in balance together.
Osteopathic treatment by applying gentle manual forms of treatment aims to restore and maintain our body in its natural state of wellbeing. At The Bower Mount Clinic in Maidstone Kent our osteopaths are trained to treat their patients as a “whole” rather than just focusing on a specific symptom or pain. So when our patients present with any particular problem they are given an overall basic medical screening as well as a structural and functional assessment of how their body is working. This means that the osteopath can discover the underlying cause of a particular problem so that it can be more effectively dealt with.
Principles of Osteopathy
Our osteopaths can therefore put into clinical practice the three key principles of osteopathy in the management of patients, the prevention of disorders and the promotion of wellbeing – namely:
- Our bodies are dynamic units of function and our health is influenced by our mind, body and sense of wellbeing.
- The structure and function of our bodies are interrelated at all levels.
- Our bodies are naturally self–healing.
This model is widely recognised within medicine as the Biopsychosocial model.
Osteopaths use a wide range of “hands-on” manual techniques for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions. The osteopathic approach incorporates current medical and scientific knowledge when applying osteopathic principles to the care of patients. Osteopaths are trained in and use the skills of clinical reasoning, reflective thinking and the use of evidence informed outcomes in their treatment approach.
Osteopathy is most widely known for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain, neck pain, sciatica, sporting injuries and postural strain. However, it is widely used throughout the world to assist in the treatment of functional problems such as breathing disorders, otitis media or glue ear, digestive problems and menstrual disorders. As primary contact Healthcare providers osteopaths recognise their responsibility to diagnose and refer patients to their general practitioner when the patient’s condition requires treatment that falls outside the competence of an osteopath.
Regulation and safeguards
Since 1993 and a passing by parliament of the Osteopaths Act all osteopaths have been regulated by statute and are now governed by the General Osteopathic Council. Simon Fielding OBE DO, who founded The Bower Mount Clinic in 1979 is widely recognised as being the architect of the Osteopaths Act and was appointed by Health Ministers to be the first chairman of the General Osteopathic Council. By law all osteopaths have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council so that patients consulting an osteopath can do so safely in the knowledge that they have the same protection as they would when consulting other healthcare professions such as doctors or dentists.
Osteopaths use a wide range of manual techniques in the management and treatment of their patients. All osteopaths at The Bower Mount Clinic are trained to a high level of skill in techniques that include a highly developed sense of touch and the ability to apply soft tissue treatment and gentle physical manipulation. Such techniques are used to help improve mobility of joints, relieve muscle tension and enhance blood flow. Other techniques include the rhythmic mobilisation and stretching of tissues and the application of gentle specifically applied pressure to help release restrictions in mobility and function.
Manual osteopathic techniques are often combined with advice on exercise, posture and nutrition to help aid recovery, promote good health and prevent symptoms recurring. At The Bower Mount Clinic we have specialists in exercise rehabilitation as well as a Pilates teacher, a qualified naturopath to advise on nutrition, a practitioner of massage therapy and a practitioner of Alexander Technique to help patients with postural problems.
Acknowledgements: World Health Organization Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy (2010)
Osteopath Kent | The Bower Mount Clinic