Osteopathy embraces the philosophy that the body has an innate, natural ability to self-regulate and to heal itself. The key factor that permits this regulation and healing to proceed unimpeded is the ability of the body to circulate all of its fluids and liquids. These fluids include the blood, lymph, synovial fluid, digestive juices, cerebrospinal fluid, axoplasm, and all the other intracellular and extracellular fluids of the body.
These liquids carry many of the body's life-sustaining compounds, such as hormones, enzymes and their secretions, immune and anti-inflammatory factors, neurotransmitter impulses, nutritional elements, and oxygen and other dissolved gases. The body's fluids are involved in all aspects of life, from the DNA that is suspended within the intracellular fluids to the fetus that floats within the amniotic fluid. Moreover, these body fluids serve as mediums for excreting all the byproducts of digestion and cellular respiration.
Any obstruction that impedes the circulation of fluids within the body is the focus of osteopathic assessment and treatment. These impediments may take the form of structural or non-structural blockages. Structural or physical impediments include generalized twists, curves, or pulls within the body, as well as specific bones, organs, or tissues that are misaligned. These faults may affect the control of systems that regulate fluid circulation and the life-sustaining and regulatory products that the fluids carry.
Non-structural impediments may include emotional patterns that are responsible for maintaining the body in certain adaptations of defense, such as a predisposition to holding the breath. These adaptations are often responses to stressful incidents of the past or present, or they may have a repetitive nature, such as repeatedly raising the shoulders in times of stress or cold temperatures.
Over time, the body gradually loses its ability to efficiently self-regulate and self-heal. Some of this loss may be due to the aging process, trauma, accident, illness, surgical scarring, childbirth, repetitive activity, the prolonged influence of gravity on posture, or the cumulative effects of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual stresses.
In most cases, the patient has had some combination of the above experiences. These experiences may manifest themselves locally at or near the original site of occurrence or, more frequently, the symptoms may be felt far from the site of occurrence. For this reason, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner must assess the whole body. Although treatment may be directed toward several specific areas, the effect of that treatment is often felt throughout the body. It is for this reason that the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner also treats the whole body.
By using a meticulous methodology, as provided through the CCO's traditional osteopathic program, the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is able to determine the origin and effects of aging, trauma, and other experiences, and to create and administer an appropriate treatment plan. This process begins by:
1) interviewing the patient
2) performing a complete osteopathic assessment
3) assessing the position, mobility and quality of certain tissues, fluids, and rhythms of the body.
Once the nature of the patient's condition is determined, treatment is directed toward helping the body regain its individual, optimal ability to circulate the fluids unimpeded and in sufficient quantity. This restoration of circulation leads to the body's natural ability to regulate and heal itself.