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About Osteopathy Osteopathic Assessment and Treatment

Osteopathic Assessment and Treatment

A major focus of the Canadian College of Osteopathy is its emphasis on Clinical Methodology.
 
Through extensive training and experience, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner understands that the site of the patient's complaints may not correspond to the site of the cause, or causes, of these complaints. In addition, many people have multiple overlapping injuries and conditions. In response to these common conditions, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner assesses and treats the whole patient. The Osteopathic Manual Practitioner considers the whole patient, recognizing that each individual has unique mental, emotional, and physical conditions.
 
The Clinical Methodology, as presented at the CCO, provides a prioritized plan by which the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner first assesses and then treats the patient in a methodical sequence. Following this sequence—including determining and treating the most severe problems first—is a highly effective way of liberating an area of the body, whose release then provides a cascading effect of other releases throughout the body.
 
By using a precise methodology, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is able to achieve the maximum change in the patient with the minimum amount of treatment. More importantly, choosing the appropriate area in which to begin treatment minimizes the adverse effects of treatment soreness. Treatment soreness describes the condition of feeling worse after treatment rather than better; it is often caused by treating the symptoms before addressing the cause of the symptoms.
 
As the ancient medical precept of Hippocrates goes, “First do no harm” ( Primum non nocere ).
 
Osteopathic treatment combines the four main types of osteopathic sub-disciplines:
 
Osteo-articular adjustments
Cranial-sacral application
Visceral normalization
Fascial release
 
Philippe Druelle
 
Philippe Druelle DO
 
Each sub-discipline requires the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner to have direct physical contact with the tissue to be treated. Light, intentional contact with the tissues is made. During treatment, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner uses sensory palpation, applying a very specific and deliberate motion, albeit small, to the intended tissue.
 
In the case of osteo-articular adjustments, the motion imparted is quite soft. In cases of visceral normalizations, cranial-sacral application, or fascial release, a sense of mild pressure might be obvious to the patient, but he or she may not always be aware of the movement that the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner transmits to the selected tissue.
 
In some cases, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner may move the tissue into a more natural or correct position (termed direct treatment). Just as frequently, however, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner chooses a technique that actually moves the tissue more toward the problem or strain pattern than the correction (termed indirect treatment).
 
This seemingly contrary action of moving the tissue toward, rather than away from, the problem actually allows the tissue to relax. The relaxation occurs because the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner—not the tissue—is now doing the holding. One may use the analogy of a patient holding a bowling ball at arm's length. A direct treatment would be aimed at either removing the bowling ball or lowering the patient's arm. An indirect treatment would have the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner supporting the patient's arm and, thus, the bowling ball. The patient's arm would then begin to relax and, at that point, the patient could determine if he or she wanted to drop the ball, lower the ball, or hold the ball closer to the body.
 
In an indirect technique, it is the "decision" of the body's physiology that determines if, and at what pace, the correction is to take place. Once the position and mobility are re-established, the quality and vitality of the tissue gradually return as circulating fluids are allowed to pass in, through, and out of the area. With the return of the flow of these fluids comes the life- and health-sustaining elements that are contained within those fluids.
 
Osteo-articular adjustments
 
As described by Philippe Druelle, DO, “an osteo-articular adjustment is a precise methodical and exacting manual osteopathic technique, which requires specificity.” The Osteopathic Manual Practitioner's goal is to restore the natural physiological relationship between the elements comprising the articular functional unit without using force.
 
Rather than attempting to physically move the bones, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner delivers a precisely timed and placed “impulse,” intended to reduce the strain upon the articular functional unit. This impulse allows the unit to return to its natural position without stressing either the targeted tissue or the rest of the body.
 
Cranial-sacral application
 
Cranial-sacral treatment is a sub-discipline of Osteopathy developed by William Garner Sutherland, DO, who was a student of the profession's founder, A.T. Still. The Osteopathic Manual Practitioner 's knowledge of when, where, and how to apply cranial techniques is what makes this form of osteopathic treatment so effective.
 
Osteopathy works under the premise that the cranium, as well as all the other tissues and systems of the body, are in a constant motion. This motion is the Primary Respiratory Mechanism (PRM), an idea that originated with Osteopathy. The motion is imparted to all living tissues as a “micro-mobility” termed motility, which is expressed at a frequency that is detectable by the human hand through precise and experienced palpation. This motility has become the focus of much scientific research.
 
The cranial touch focuses on the restoration of the inherent motility of PRM. This application is not restricted to the cranium alone. It may also be applied to any other tissue or system of the body, because motility is expressed everywhere in the body. Depending upon the health and condition of the tissues under evaluation, the motility can be detected in varying degrees of normality by the palpating Osteopathic Manual Practitioner. Treatment is aimed at restoring the optimal rhythms of the patient's PRM.
 
Visceral normalization
 
Recognizing that a dysfunctional relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system has been proven to be a source of physical pain and discomfort, visceral normalization seeks to alleviate this dysfunction.
 
Treatment is usually directed toward ensuring that each organ has adequate mobility or space in which to perform its functions. This treatment seeks to ensure that each organ is not impeding any major vessels or nerves in the area, and that the organ has its own sense of motility.
 
More so than with other techniques, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner who performs visceral normalizations must be able to fully apply his or her knowledge of normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology. In addition, because many organs are not within the physical reach of the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner's hand, the practitioner must rely on his or her refined sense of palpation. Using this sense, there is no tissue that is out of the reach of a skilled and experienced Osteopathic Manual Practitioner's sensory abilities.
 
Fascial release
 
Fascial release is a generalized term used to describe treatment that is aimed at restoring soft tissue mobility and motility, particularly that of membranous-like tissues. These membranes or connecting tissues comprise the fabric that holds the human body together as a functioning system. Once again, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner's palpatory skill in both sensing the state of the tissue and in simultaneously moving the tissue allows him or her to achieve release without the application of force.
 
There are many types of fascial release that have been developed by Osteopathic Manual Practitioners. These include:
 
•  General Osteopathic Treatment (GOT) that is primarily rhythmical.
•  Strain Counterstrain as first described by Lawrence H. Jones, DO.
•  Muscle Energy as first described by Fred Mitchell Sr., DO.
•  Reciprocal Membranous Tension.