Osteopathy is a drug-free approach to medicine. By manipulating and kneading the musculoskeletal framework of the body, osteopathy is able to remedy the complications of both minor and major illnesses. Osteopaths understand that the body is capable of self-healing if the ‘framework’ or core of the body is tended to and strengthened from harmful threats. Despite there being thousands of osteopaths, clinicians, and satisfied clients, osteopathy has not yet made the leap into conventional medicine, and is still considered by some to be unorthodox.
Similarities & differences between osteopathy and massage therapy
Osteopathy around the world is best considered a CAM (complementary and alternative medicine), however in England osteopathy is now considered an allied health profession working closer with the National Health Service (NHS). It is very patient-centered. It focuses in particular on the application of techniques such as soft tissue tech and joint manipulation, along with consultation in regards to diet and exercise. At the heart of contemporary osteotherapy lies the understanding that proper maintenance of the structure and function of the body’s tissues, fluids, and systems are all that is essential to relieve the body from injury and breakdown.
Massage therapy, on the other hand, is less holistic and more therapeutic. The techniques associated with massage are associated with alleviating discomfort, as opposed to osteopathy, which is about healing and restoring the functions of the body through a comprehensive case history and medical examination before treatment.
Both the massage therapist and the osteopath need to ensure respect for the patient, responsible care, integrity and patient-professional relationship to make sure that neither the patient nor the expert is harmed in any way. Ethical behavior, interpersonal skills, experience & expertise, and various other qualities matter a lot in a therapeutic relationship.
- Both treat musculoskeletal pain.
- Both require a comprehensive knowledge of the human anatomy (academically, speaking).
- Registration number and insurance is essential.
- Both are not allowed to offer medical diagnosis or perform independent medical evaluations.
- Both fall under the category ‘Natural Medicine’.
- Both ensure patient-centered care.
- Both use manual therapy techniques, like myofascial release, strain-counterstrain and facilitated positional releases.
- Osteopaths are regulated. Within the UK osteopaths by law have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) in order to practice.
- Osteotherapy is about holistic treatment and wellness. Massage therapy is more therapeutic, serving for relaxation and short-term discomfort release.
- Osteopaths can give medical and manual diagnosis (within their remit) while massage therapists cannot.
- Most of their treatment technique differs, as osteopathy requires specific training via higher education (generally degree or masters level in the UK). Most massage therapy courses are taught over 2 days to 6 weeks.
- Osteopaths often undertake post-graduate training in medical acupuncture, clinic pilates, cranial and paediatric o steopathy, ultra-sound and shock-wave therapy.
- Massage therapy is more popular around the world as compared with osteotherapy, due to lack of much knowledge about the latter.
There is a lot of overlap, which is why most people get confused between the two. In simple words, both the forms of natural healthcare focus on the patients’ preferences, health history & needs accordingly. Both apply manual therapy techniques to treat pain and dysfunction. However osteopaths are comprehensively trained to a high standard in order to provide medical and manual diagnosis and treatment addressing the patients needs in a safe and structured way.
Facts about osteopathy
- There are over 5,300 osteopaths in the UK, even though over 30,000 people consult osteopaths every day.
- Osteopathy is not regulated in Ontario whereas it is regulated by UK law, i.e., an osteopath in London is more recognized and regulated than one in Ontario.
- The highest number of osteopaths are found in England.
- Osteopathy in the UK is generally provided on a private basis with some provision available within the National Health Service (NHS)
- Osteopathy in the UK is often accept by private medical insurance.
- UK osteopaths have to train at degree and / or masters level in order to gain qualification.
Whom should you visit: Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist?
A chiropractor is more focused on the spine and joints, while the osteopath looks at the body as a whole. On the other hand, a physiotherapist focuses on the mobility of the body, whereas an osteopath focuses on the structure of the body. However largely there is little difference in how all three professions operate.
Differences exist in their belief systems, but most practitioners regardless of their profession will approach their treatments in a different way and in a different manner. Whilst all 3 professions are commonly based around patients privately funding their appointments, physiotherapy is also available on the NHS however you may have to wait 4-6 weeks for an appointment.
Although they all occupy a similar territory in healthcare, there are important differences between the three of them. If you are unsure which is right for you, visit a practitioner and discuss your problem with them.
Conventional Medicine Vs. Alternative Medicine
- Alternative medicine emphasizes whole-body treatments while conventional medicine specializes in affected parts only.
- Conventional medicine experts focus on the physical treatment of diseases whereas alternative medicine experts take care to ensure emotional and spiritual healing as well.
- Conventional medicine is usually a means to tackle a problem. One of the functions of alternative medicine is to monitor and prevent illnesses before they develop.
Although alternative medicine seems more beneficial to the body, there are certain setbacks too, such as:
- Ambiguity. It is not clear to the general public what osteotherapy is.
- Some in the scientific community do not regard osteopathy (and other manual therapies) as a ‘conventional’ treatment, arguing that the scientific evidence for its usefulness is lacking. The osteopathic community especially in the UK works hard to consistently produce high quality research through platforms such as the National Council for Osteopathic Research (NCOR).
- Some techniques may be dangerous if the patient’s medical history is not fully understood. Visiting a qualified, insured and registered osteopath will ensure that techniques provided are safe for each individual.
Benefits & side effects of osteotherapy
- The pain in muscles and joints is reduced notably.
- It improves joint mobility.
- It increases the blood circulation in the body.
- It encourages the natural treatment of diseases.
- It heals the body from many problems by re-adjusting the musculoskeletal framework.
- It decreases tension in the body.
- It treats medical conditions like headaches, backaches, digestive issues, arthritis, postural problems, and tennis elbow.
- Physical discomfort.
- Allergic reactions.
- Dissatisfaction due to improper treatment techniques.
Visiting a registered practitioner will ensure that the right techniques are used and a treatment plan is tailored around the patients needs and goals. Whilst osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists will treat general and common injuries all practitioners will have areas of expertise that they are passionate about. Speak to your local clinic to find the best match for you.
Why do people prefer conventional medicine to osteotherapy?
Although osteopathy is recognized all over the UK, U.S. and other parts of the world, it is still not considered an equal to a doctor of conventional medicine. Osteopathy treats the entire body; however, it cannot alleviate and help with certain conditions because osteopaths don’t prescribe western medicine / medication. Contrary to popular belief, not every disease or physical condition can be cured with readjustment of the musculoskeletal framework; some medical conditions require medicines to ease the pain or strengthen the body and its systems.
The number of ‘DO’ (doctor of osteopathic medicine) colleges around the world is tiny when compared to standard medicine colleges. Moreover, a majority of medical colleges do not offer M.D. degrees in osteopathy. For some, osteopathy is considered to be a pseudoscience like many other natural therapy methods. Due to the many side-effects, limited applications and lack of awareness about osteopathy, most people prefer conventional medicine to osteopathy.
Visit a great osteopath today
Regulation is an essential in all fields of medicine, including conventional and CAM. Unlike Ontario, the osteopaths in England are some of the most heavily regulated on earth. This is to ensure ethical and professional standards. The chances are, if you visit a London health clinic with a practising osteopath, they will be one of the safest and best in the industry.
Osteotherapy, the holistic approach to healthcare, includes manual therapy, where the doctor uses hands-on treatment to cure physical dysfunction, joint and muscle pain and strengthen the body to make sure that it can fight against threats on its own. Clients, patients, and osteopaths the world over will testify of osteopathy’s ability to restore and enhance a person’s well-being. And perhaps better than other forms of medicine. Whether it will gain more acceptance in mainstream circles and move into the ‘conventional’ remains to be seen.
Don’t hesitate to visit an osteopath in your neighborhood if you are facing any of the above-mentioned problems; just make sure that he/she is a registered practitioner and have sufficient experience to help you move, feel better and live a life pain free.