OSTEOPATHY Osteopathic treatment concentrates on the relationship between the structure of the body - the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue and the way in which the body moves and functions. To an osteopath, the body functions as a complete, working system, so any problems affecting its structure, upset the balance of our general health. For this reason, an osteopath will not simply want to ease the pain and stiffness in your neck, but also want to know what is causing that pain, which could be anything from physical injury to mental anxiety.

Osteopathy is a hands-on therapy. Through touch, massage, manipulation and stretching techniques, an osteopath can diagnose and treat people with physical and emotional problems. Since osteopaths are concerned with the structural integrity of the whole person, there are no formally recognised specialities. However, some practitioners develop their expertise in specific fields, such as the treatment of children, elderly, sports injuries or pregnancy-related problems. Similarly, some osteopaths choose to concentrate on certain methods, such as cranial technique, which focuses on the patient's breathing and the nervous system, concentrating on diagnosing and correcting imbalances through gentle manipulation of the skull.

Body MapOther practitioners specialise in visceral techniques, in which the internal organs are manipulated by massaging the abdomen or working on the nerve centres along the spine. This form of osteopathy can improve the position of an organ, break down adhesions, ease congested tissue and improve muscle function. Osteopaths often liken their therapy to a three-legged stool; one leg represents the chemistry of the body, which relies on a healthy diet for strength; the second represents the physical structure of the body; and the third symbolises emotional, mental and spiritual health. The seat is the influence of heredity over the whole person. just as the stool can't balance if one leg is broken, a person can't be healthy if one aspect of their health is affected. This is why an osteopath will treat every aspect when relieving a disease which appears to affect only one.