How is Osteopathy an Art and a Science?
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
Before we delve into this blog post, here's my background and why I chose to be an Osteopath.
I am a 31 year old female Osteopath based in Berrylands, Surbiton. I have been registered for almost 7 years, a qualified Sports massage practitioner for 11 years and a qualified Fitness coach for almost 3 years. I grew up in Harrow and moved to study a 4 year Bachelor of Science degree in Osteopathic medicine in Epsom, Surrey. I later moved in with my now husband to Chessington for 2.5 years, central Surbiton for 5 years and we're now in South Berrylands, Surbiton, Greater London.
What attracted me to Osteopathy was my desire to pursue a profession that aligned with my passion as a wellness and fitness enthusiast and one which could be practical, rewarding, and flexible. Osteopathy ticked all the boxes. My mother was a nurse and social worker in the NHS, her sister a Nutritionist, and my Mother's father was the village doctor. He'd make eucalyptus balms similar to Wicks vaporub from scratch, so I feel holistic care is in my blood line.
This all lead me to decide to take the plunge and study a vocational health BSc degree, back in 2010 in Osteopathic medicine/ Osteopathy.
The profession of Osteopathy was not as widely known when I studied Osteopathy as much as it is now; I still see some patients that I see have never heard of Osteopathy/are unaware that Osteopaths study a highly academic degree, are trained in a wide skillset as health care practitioners or that a GP referral is not needed for Osteopathy. Most are unaware that Osteopaths treat more than back pain, that we treat the whole body and that we use a variety of treatment techniques to loosen tissues, increase mobility thus all alleviate pain.
Little did I realise how fulfilling my role would be till my first patient felt tonnes better and rebooked their Osteopathy appointment with me. They sung praises to anyone they knew in pain and that's how it all started. My Osteopathy and fitness career started to take off and my confidence in my ability grew and grew.
Little did I realise how much of an Art Osteopathy is as much as it is a Science till later in my profession.
How is Osteopathy an Art as well as a Science then?
Fast forward to today and I can understand just how long it takes to develop excellent palpation skills (a heightened sense of feel/ touch), and this is a key diagnostic tool for Osteopaths along with physical examination and a background detailed patient case history.
No patient is treated the same way. Sure, it may seem as if we are just wiggling your leg, placing an elbow in your hamstring/glute muscle and then manipulating the spine after a few stretches but Osteopathy treatment is tailored to your specific needs, posture, joint restrictions, pain threshold, age, diagnosis, nature of pain and how long you've had it for. There is no concept of "one size fits all" when it comes to Osteopathy.
Osteopathy can be very subtle. Less is often more, as is the same with any art.
Many Osteopathy techniques are gentle and rhythmical, and can look almost like a dance. Aligning the structure of the body with it's function, Osteopathy gracefully removes the root cause of pain in a holistic and careful manner. Treatment is often conservative when pain is extreme or if a diagnoses such as those causing nerve root compression is concerned.
Some Osteopaths specialise in Paediatrics treat babies, some may be qualified in Women's health, treating mostly pregnant patients or pre and post partum patients, some will use Classical Osteopathy, working with the lymphatic system and some may work to increase organ function with Visceral Osteopathy. I use various techniques including massage to first loosen up the body. Plus I focus on strength and postural rehabilitation as often hands on therapy is great for helping patients to get out of pain, however, for long term results and to prevent future pain from arising, strength work improves joint integrity and keeps the body supple and healthy. It complements occasional or routine "MOTS" of Osteopathy very well- together a perfect team and recipe for success is achieved with the right practitioner, employing the appropriate approach towards your healing.
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