Looking up the word “osteopathy” you will find a reference to its Greek origin: "osteon" meaning bone and "páthos" = suffering or pain. Therefore an osteopath must be something like a chiropractor or orthopedic surgeon, right? Wrong!
Osteopathy is a holistic, manual diagnostic and treatment approach that focuses on treating the cause of complaints. The Osteopathic Association of Germany (Verband der Osteopathen Deutschland e.V., VOD) defines it as “a medicine in which the osteopath examines and treats his patients with his hands."
The method was developed in the 19th century by the American doctor Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917). Still looked for an explanation for various physical dysfunctions by looking only at the skeletal system. It was only after he coined the term “osteopathy” that he found out that in addition to the bones the connecting tissue between organs, muscles, tendons and ligaments, the fascia, also plays an essential role in mobility dysfunctions. He realised that the location where we perceive pain is not necessarily where it originates from.
The aim of osteopathy is to detect and treat mobility dysfunctions in the body. It is based on the assumption that the body itself is able to regulate and heal itself, provided that all joints are mobile and therefore sufficiently supplied with nutrients.
According to the VOD, osteopathy can be applied wherever functional disorders are the cause of complaints.
Every osteopathic treatment begins with a detailed medical history assessment of the patient. Based on these findings the osteopath will try to identify and treat the source in the tissue that is responsible for the patient's complaints by only using gentle and powerful grips with his hands. A headache for instance may be traced back to a pelvic obliquity. An aching back may be the result of digestion problems.
Dysfunctions in the body can thus be rectified. Other body structures must then no longer compensate these dysfunctions. The symptoms may be alleviated or disappear entirely.
Today, the salutogenetic concept, which not only stands for the healing of illnesses but rather the long-term promotion of health, is widely recognized in the field of complementary medicine and on the rise.