Osteopathy can be used in multiple clinical situations, and not only in ‘bone’ problems, as its name may incorrectly seem to indicate. However, musculo-skeletal problems are still the most common demand for osteopathy. Among the most often attended conditions we can find:
Musculo-skeletal problems are very common and present recurrently. The aim of osteopathic treatment is to identify and treat the mechanical and functional problems that predispose us to suffer pain in muscles and joints. Strain patterns are not limited to the symptomatic area, and must be approached globally. This means treatment will not only be directed to painful areas, but to all body regions that may have an influence on it. Most acute episodes will improve fast. In chronic cases, where complete resolution is not always possible, the frequency and intensity of painful episodes are usually reduced. Depending on the morphologic and functional characteristics in each case, a periodic maintenance treatment is recommended.
Trauma represents one of the situations in which osteopathic treatment is especially effective. A fall or strong blow (with or without fracture) can cause problems both at the short and long terms (it is not unusual for an old accident to be the underlying cause of a problem long after). The osteopath looks for the effects of the impact in the body as a whole (treating only the neck in a case of cervical whiplash, for example, may not be effective enough), and tries to release its associated strain patterns.
Some invasive medical treatments (from tooth extractions to open surgery) may have a traumatic effect to the body. After these procedures, as well as after a long medication period, osteopathic treatment can be a great contribution to help recovery.
Osteopathy allows treating effectively and without medication many of the common problems during pregnancy and childhood, always using gentle and safe techniques (see ‘ Cranial Osteopathy’).
During pregnancy, osteopathy works preventively on symptoms such as low back pain, sciatica, acidity, bloating and circulatory difficulties, etc. At the same time, it works to achieve good lumbo-pelvic mechanics, which will make labour easier. After giving birth, it is highly recommendable to have a check-up to treat residual strains and globally rebalance the body after a time of great changes.
Many babies present with some type of compression in the skull or any other part of the body after birth, related to labour work or some kind of intrauterine ‘molding’ (multiple pregnancy, fibroids, etc.). These strains improve by themselves most of the times, but on some occasions they can predispose to different functional problems. Some of the disorders that have been related with perinatal strains are scoliosis, dental malocclusion, nervousness, etc. Early check-up allows for detection of these strains, followed by preventive treatment.
The growth of maxilla can be influenced by structural factors susceptible of osteopathic treatment. When significant cranio-facial strains are diagnosed, these can be treated before there is an evident malocclusion, to try and reduce its magnitude. Osteopathic treatment can also be used along with orthodontic treatment: before it starts, to prepare and facilitate adaptation to braces; during orthodontics to reduce discomfort and treat eventual symptoms (cervical or cranio-facial tensions, headache, dizziness, auditive or visual difficulties, etc.); after orthodontics, it allows to restore normal mobility and the elimination of residual strains. Combination of osteopathic treatment with orthodontics can reduce its duration and make it more comfortable. Apart from orthodontics, an osteopathic evaluation is recommendable after a tooth extraction, placement of an implant or prostheses, and after any long-lasting procedure, surgical or not, to prevent possible mandibular dysfunctions, for example.
Problems of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and masticatory muscles are increasingly common. Its causes are diverse, and sometimes are difficult to overcome. Symptoms can include pain in the area before the ear and in the jaw, limitation and deviation in mouth opening, articular noises, headache, auditory problems, cervical pain, etc. Frequently TMJ problems have been related to malocclusion. Nowadays we know it is a much more complex phenomenon. Osteopathic treatment addressed to relax jaw muscles and correct dysfunction in the head, neck and mandible is effective in reducing the inflammation and pain, and in function improvement. It can also be easily combined with occlusal splints for a better effect.
Over-stimulation and chronic imbalance of the nervous system are in the background of many diseases. Disturbances in the nervous system can manifest in general states of discomfort or physical pain, unjustified tiredness, as well as anxiety or nervous depression. Treatment in these situations may require the participation of more than one health professional. Diet, physical activity, emotional state, etc. must be widely analysed. Osteopathically, the function of the nervous system can be regulated, improving rest and energy restoration. Osteopathic treatment is indicated in patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, as well as in insomnia, bruxism, etc.