Osteopathy Explained


World Health Organization (2010) defined Osteopathy as follows:

‘Osteopathy (also called Osteopathic Medicine) relies on manual contact for diagnosis and treatment. It respects the relationships of the body, mind and spirit in health and disease; it lays emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body and the body’s intrinsic tendency for self-healing. Osteopathic Practitioners use a wide variety of therapeutic manual techniques to improve physiological function and/or support homeostasis that has been altered by somatic (body framework) dysfunction, i.e. impaired or altered function of related components within the somatic system; skeletal, arthrodial and myofascial structures; and related vascular, lymphatic, and neural elements.’

General Osteopathic Council, UK, 28th October 1998 defined Osteopathy as:

…‘Osteopathy is an established, recognised system of diagnosis and treatment which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body. It is distinctive by the fact that it recognises that much of the pain and disability which we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body’s structure as well as damage caused to it by disease.’


Debra Bakowska and Tony Mathews both trained in Osteopathic Science and Practice in the UK, and so for us Osteopathy can be summarised as:

• Osteopathy is a modern healthcare system which places its main emphasis on understanding the relationship between the structure and function of a human body.
• Osteopathy focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries in the musculoskeletal system.
• Most frequent conditions treated by an osteopathic approach, are back and neck pain, but complaints like hip and knee pain, other joint problems caused by sport injuries, arthritis, certain types of headaches, muscular tension and strains, stress, and pre and post natal care can also be helped by osteopathy. See section ‘What We Treat’
• The core methods used by an osteopath are hands on techniques, eg. manipulation, mobilization, mobilization with movement; soft tissue approaches like (massage, lymphatic drainage, kneading, effurage, myofascial release, trigger point, muscle energy etc.) or very gentle techniques aimed at fluid dynamics such as cranial (better known as cranio-sacral) or visceral approach. Practitioners vary in their treatment methods depending on the patient’s condition and symptoms.
• The main principle which guides us is an acceptance that every human body has an ability to auto-regulate and self-heal in order to achieve homeostatic balance when faced with the process of illness. The aim of osteopathic manual treatment is to assists the body to activate this mechanism.
• As part of the holistic or ‘whole person’ approach to health, osteopathic practitioners also recommend appropriate exercise programs, advise on posture, work-station ergonomic and life style changes to maximise your recovery, treatment and management.
• In an osteopathic paradigm patient symptoms are considered in the context of their full medical history, lifestyle and personal circumstances. This holistic approach helps to individualise treatment. See our section ‘New Patient Guide‘
• In this clinical application, practitioner’s of osteopathy use the understanding of the inter-relationship between the structure and function of a musculoskeletal system (muscles, ligaments, tendon, fascia, bone, nerves, etc.) to treat injuries.
• Osteopathic assessment is based on the analysis of structural and mechanical faults in the body, and with the manner in which these faults influence the mechanical function and the physiological processes of the body. See our selection of ’New Patient Guide‘
• Osteopathy is also concerned with identifying function potential in each patient as expressed by movement in order to maximize his/her ability to engage in physical activity which positively influences physical, psychological, emotional, and social well being. This approach also helps with prevention, early detection, and rehabilitation of an injury.
• By taking a full case history and thoroughly examining the patient, the practitioner seeks to establish the exact source of the patient’s problem and pain. See section ‘New Patient Guide’
• Treatment is aimed at reducing pain, restoring function and removing any mechanical imbalances which are preventing the natural body’s power of healing. This includes circumstances in which structure, movement and function are altered by processes like aging, disease or environmental factors. See our section of ‘Osteopathy as you Age’
• Osteopathy can be complementary to conventional medical treatment and vice versa. See our section on ‘Osteoarthritis

The Principles of OSTEOPATHY

• The human body is a unit
• Every part of the body is interconnected either directly or indirectly to the rest of the body and these parts are interrelated with each other
• Structure governs function but function only effects structure
• The body possesses a self-regulatory mechanism
• The body has the inherent capacity to defend and repair itself.
• Disease may ensue if a body loses its capacity to adapt and self maintain.
• The movement of body fluids is essential to the maintenance of health.
•  The nervous system plays a crucial role in controlling the function of all the body systems.
• Pathology can manifest itself by a Musculoskeletal Dysfunction or Musculoskeletal Dysfunction and can lead to a pathology


• Reduction of pain and inflammation
• Stimulation of blood flow to the injured area
• Improvement of fluid movement and drainage in an injured area, especially lymphatic and venous drainage
• Reduction in soft tissue tightness and stiffness
• Improvement of nerve function.
• Normalization of joint mobility
• Improvement of movement patterns
• Improvement of balance

Structure & Function

Changes caused, by injury to ligaments or tendons, adversely affects the function of the corresponding joints by altering its normal range of movement, biomechanical loading, decreasing smooth control of the movement, muscle strength and balance etc. When the injuries are serious enough, or are left untreated, whole body movements are changed, compromising optimal function of the body. Similarly, the alteration of structure by faulty posture or repetitive occupational stress can adversely influence the movement pattern, thus affecting the function of the whole body.

The Main Branches of Osteopathy Practiced in the BodyLogic Clinic

1. STRUCTURAL OSTEOPATHY,  uses direct ‘hands on’ techniques to mobilize, manipulate, massage, stretch and relax joints and myofascial soft tissues. This approach is also used in Sport Injury Care and Post-operative Rehabilitation. See also our section ‘Sport Injury Clinic

2. VISCERAL OSTEOPATHY is a branch of osteopathy that uses gentle massage type movements to normalize the natural mobility of the internal organs, like digestive tracts. This approach can help to improve function, circulation and lymphatic drainage. We do not claim that Visceral Osteopathy can cure serious diseases of internal organs, but these gentle functional techniques may help with the following conditions:

• Swallowing difficulties
• Digestive problems
• Headaches, Incontinence
• Irregular, heavy & painful periods
• Abdominal Congestion /Discomfort
• Jaw pain
• Sinus Congestion
• Glue Ear or Chronic Ear Inflammation

3. CRANIAL OSTEOPATHY is based on the belief that restoring or improving the quality of movements of the joints in the skull has a healing affect on the rest of the body. Cranial osteopathy is most frequently used to treat babies and children and it can be useful for conditions such as:

• Babies and children with problems such as colic
• Sleep disturbance
• Headache and neck pain
• Digestive disorders
• Recurrent infection
• General ill health and fatigue
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
• Fibromyalgia

The Main Methods of Osteopathic Diagnosis used at the Body Logic Clinic

• Observation of a static posture and body alignment.
• Assessment of active and passive movements
• Evaluation of movement patterns of the body as a whole and of individual joints.
• Assessment of muscle length & strength
• Assessment of coordination of different body segments when in motion
• Functional assessment of a dynamic posture involving evaluation of balance, and observation and assessment of gait
• Physical palpation of soft tissues
• Osteopathic practitioners also use X-Rays, MRI scan, CT scans, blood test or other diagnostic tests to arrive at diagnosis and treat patients safely.