The body is able to heal itself in most circumstances. Our wounds heal when we cut ourselves, our bones become as strong after a fracture as they were before, our immune system fights infections. This applies to all body functions, be they neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, visceral, neurological, endocrine, etc.

Osteopathy works with the principle that the body has the capacity to heal itself and that at times it may need outside help to remove ‘osteopathic lesions’ just as bones need a cast during healing, or as anti-biotics may be needed to fight an active infection.

We all understand that for the body to work at its best, it needs to nourish its cells and to remove waste products produced by them. This is done mainly by the arterial and venous systems. In addition to this, we also have ‘circulation’ or movement in the lymphatic (immune) system, the nervous system (information to and from the spinal cord and brain), and more specific to osteopathy: the fluctuation of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Osteopathy aims at an optimal flow in all of the above systems. This is attained by removing areas of resistance to movement. As an example, consider a shoulder that is limited in movement. The neck and back will compensate to maximize functionality and thereby create ‘kinks’ in the circulatory system. By regaining full range of motion at the shoulder we will allow for better circulation and thereby promote health. Osteopathy aims at proper alignment, position and mobility in all body structures be they musculoskeletal, visceral, or  neurological.

We can understand that proper function requires a sound structure. For example, if an elbow does not have its full ability to bend or to straighten, then reaching far from the body or behind the neck will be impossible. This is true for all structures in the human body.

Osteopathy aims at ensuring that each component will be able to have its full range of movement in the directions and sequences that are particular to that structure.

The body can be described as being composed of several systems: we have our musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles), cardiovascular (heart, veins and arteries), neurological (brain and nerves), respiratory (lungs), digestive (stomach, liver, intestines), endocrine (pancreas, thyroid), etc. For optimal health, each system must function optimally individually, but it must also be able to function with its partners. Each unit is a member of a team that is interdependent (the brain will not be able to function without nourishment and digestion of nutrients will be useless if the liver cannot transform our food to glycogen to be used by the brain).

In an osteopathic approach, once we have corrected a structure, we ‘integrate’ it with its neighbours locally (shoulder with scapula), regionally (shoulder with thoracic cage) and globally (shoulder and its role during walking)

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