“To find health should be the object of the physician. Anyone can find disease.”
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathy
Osteopathy is not a set of techniques; rather it is a philosophy. This philosophy is simple and very sensible. When applied in practice, Osteopathy can make profound changes in a person’s health.
These principles are:
Structure Governs Function
From the smallest cell to the largest bone, all of anatomy is alive and in constant, dynamic, rhythmic, pulsatile motion. Blood flows, lymphatics drain, cerebral spinal fluid fluctuates. The heart beats, the ribcage expands and contracts with each respiration. Each and every structure has its own inherent rhythmic activity.
Disease is the effect of a change in the parts of the physical body. Disease in an abnormal body is just as natural as is Health, when all parts are in place, and all forces are balanced. When a molecule is distorted it cannot fit into its receptor site to accomplish its designated function. It is that simple. If the parts do not sit well with one another in any machine, the parts at best wear abnormally, or fail altogether. So it is in the human body. The architecture of the human body, and all the natural world, exists the way it does because it fulfills a specific function. Form determines function. Function determines form. Health emerges when FORM and FUNCTION are perfectly expressed.
The Body is a Single Dynamic Unit of Function
Many organ systems exist throughout the entire body. The Circulatory System supplies blood flow throughout. The Nervous system connects and integrates all functions. A third unifying system is comprised of a connective tissue called FASCIA. Fascia surrounds every muscle, organ, nerve, and blood vessel. It’s function is to support and lubricate. It is composed of collagen, which is organized microscopically in little tubes. The lymph flows through the fascia. Fascia is everywhere. Fascia is named differently depending upon which part of the body it resides, but it is all one piece that folds over and blends into itself. Fascia becomes twisted and compressed by trauma. It pulls from one part of the body to another. Fascia is extremely important in Osteopathy.
The Circulatory System, the Nervous System, and the Connective Tissue Matrix all organize the body into a unified continuous whole. The interdependant regulation of the Endocrine System must also be considered. No single part exists independent of the whole. When even a small part of the body dysfunctions, the entire organism is affected.
The site of a previous surgery or serious infection can lay down scar tissues that pulls throughout the body, inhibiting the functions of apparently unrelated remote structures.
Consider the patient with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Do not automatically assume that the problem resides only in the wrists. There may be neck, upper back, or rib problems compressing nerves that radiate to the wrist. A restricted abdominal diaphragm may pulling from a distance. These fixations in other parts of the body may not allow the arms to move freely. The repetitive work at a computer terminal may cause the restricted structures in the back to pull on the wrists, creating abnormal frictions, which wear on the tendons and nerves…producing the wrist and arm pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is highly unusual to see patients with this disorder where the problem lies only in the wrist. Optimal treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome requries a restoration of balance and freedom to the entire body…including but not limited to the wrists.
The endpoint of any Osteopathic Treatment? When Unity of Function expresses itself as the primary perception.
The Body Possesses Self-Regulatory and Self-Healing Mechanisms
The human body is always working to maintain a state of balanced function. Physical Examinations and Lab Tests are designed to measure those physiologic activities the body keeps constant: Blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, etc. all stay within a normal range.
Posturally, the body remains balanced in three dimensional space. We can stand on one foot, hold a book in one hand, read, and at the same time bring a cup to our lips without even looking, and without falling over. This is a complex task requiring a constant self correcting mechanism.
When the a patient suffers a laceration, a physician can only assist by cleaning the wound, and bringing the edges together. The healing occurs on its own.
There is within each of us an inherent wisdom; a wise all knowing restorative force, an intelligence within every cell that keeps the body well. When a state of discord arises, this healing force acts to restore functional balance and harmony.
Osteopathy recognizes the body’s ability to heal, and seeks its clearest and most dynamic expression.
“The rule of the artery is supreme”
When blood and lymphatics flow freely, the tissues can perform their physiologic functions without impedance. With the occurrence of trauma (physical or emotional), the tissues contract, twist, and compress. The fluid flow becomes obstructed. Micro-climates of underperfusion result, and are considered to be a significant contributor to the onset of disease. Osteopathic manipulation restores freedom in the tissues, normalizes fluid flow and thus inherent physiologic function (healing) follows.