The word osteopathy derives from the Greek osteon, meaning not only bone, but also the entire body tissue structures. This reflects a holistic approach to health and underlines the body’s self-healing ability.
Osteopathy originates in western medicine and has proven its effectiveness since the 19th century. Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician and founder of osteopathy, was one of the first westerners to show interest in the age-old tradition of manual medicine throughout the world. Many scientists and physicians followed in his footsteps. Their discoveries on the principles of physiology led them to develop specific therapeutic methods.
The main approaches are: structural, cranial, fascial, visceral and fluidic. With time and practice, osteopaths develop the ability to understand the anatomical structure through touch, much like the visually impaired learn the Braille system. Osteopaths detect accumulated tension or restrictions, sometimes present since birth, through precise manipulation techniques. Osteopathic treatment consists of gently removing these restrictions to re-establish the physiological range of motion of the structures and fluids. This enables effective blood circulation and transmission of nerve impulses. Pain relief and prevention of chronic disorders are a result of normal body balance returning naturally after a few weeks of treatment.
Osteopathy is effective for all animal species no matter the age. Used alone or in conjunction with traditional veterinary medicine, osteopathy may reduce the use of medication or, in certain specific cases, even be effective if surgery is not an option.
In my veterinary practice, I use osteopathy with acupuncture to help my patients. Osteopathy and traditional Chinese medicine allow for a more detailed physical exam and a better evaluation of needs than conventional veterinary medicine alone. Osteopathic treatment corrects the structure while acupuncture relieves pain and inflammation of the entire organism. Acupuncture may also increase overall energy. Both methods complement each other for optimal results. Generally, 2 to 3 treatments, with 2 to 4 weeks between visits, are recommended for better results. In certain cases, follow-up visits every 6 to 12 months are an effective means of prevention; more frequent treatments are sometimes required to maintain comfort.