It is first necessary to understand osteopathy in general. It is also important to understand what osteopathy is not: it is not physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, or craniosacral therapy (insert link). It is a unique form of total and complete medical care. Created nearly 200 years ago with the goal of reforming American medicine, the osteopathic physician is trained in every aspect of medicine and surgery and may prescribe prescription drugs if necessary. However, in addition, osteopathic physicians are trained in holistic medicine -- viewing the body not as separate parts -- but as a whole, vital, and dynamic organism having mind, body, and spirit.
Osteopathic medicine is a patient-centered, health-oriented approach to comprehensive patient care, involving physicians trained in both state-of-the-art mainstream western medicine and integrative, holistic, and complementary medicine. The osteopathic philosophy is defined as “a model of health care supported by expanding scientific knowledge that embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology)."
Osteopathic philosophy emphasizes the following principles in its model of health:
The human being is a dynamic unit of function.
The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms that are self-healing in nature.
Structure and function are interrelated at all levels.
Rational treatment is based on these holistic principles.
Osteopathy is based on the fundamental principle that the entire body is interrelated and has an inherent ability to defend and heal itself. Through the understanding of anatomy, physiology, structure, function, and dynamic biomechanical interrelations, an osteopath is able to palpate, diagnose, and treat restrictions that limit the body's full potential. Traditional osteopaths focus on treating the whole person and their underlying cause for the condition rather than treating the symptoms alone.
Osteopathic philosophy and principles permeate all aspects of health maintenance, disease prevention, and treatment.