Back Pain Treatment: Osteopathy

Osteopathy, or osteopathic medicine, is a system of medicine that emphasizes body mechanics along with more traditional (allopathic) physical, medicinal and surgical methods to diagnose and treat disease. If you were to go to a medical doctor, then a chiropractor, then a practitioner of alternative therapies, you may be given three completely different opinions on what to do about your back pain. You may end up leaving an office feeling like you have to do one type of treatment behind your doctor's back, since he or she may advocate against spinal manipulations or holistic therapies.

Osteopaths, on the other hand, are trained in both Western medical treatments, such as physical therapy and medications, as well other types of holistic treatments, such as spinal manipulation and acupuncture. Osteopathy is performed by osteopathic physicians (DOs), as opposed to medical doctors (MDs). Osteopathic physicians receive their training in different medical schools then medical doctors, yet both are fully qualified to practice medicine and surgery after obtaining the appropriate degrees and training in clinical. Osteopaths are licensed to prescribe medicine, perform surgery, and order physical therapy and other back pain treatments that are available in a medical hospital or clinic. The main difference is that most osteopathic physicians are trained in manipulative techniques to correct misalignments in the spine or among the different muscle groups of the back. Some DOs' focus on hands-on therapy, while others may be involved in diagnostics or primary care.

The particular therapy that you will receive from an osteopathic physician will be unique, based on your precise back problem and its severity. That being said, there are a number of techniques that are regularly used to correct postural and structural misalignments and structural problems in the back. The techniques that are frequently employed are designed to aligned misplaced bones and to stretch muscles that have become tight and tense. Some DOs are trained to administer trigger point injections or neuromuscular massage (also known as trigger point therapy). Other DOs may perform various massage modalities or have massage therapists in their clinic. Osteopaths may also be trained to perform craniosacral therapy.

Craniosacral therapy is a hands on therapy that involves diagnosing and treating structural problems in the spine, cranial sutures, skull and fascia. The DO practicing this therapy modality will use his hands to press on the spine and skull to find problems with the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The doctor will manipulate these membranes to unblock points of tension and to improve the circulation of the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) surrounding the brain. To unblock points of tension at various points along the head and spine, the practitioner will apply various massage techniques to heal these membranes that provide oxygen and nutrients to the spinal cord.

Craniosacral therapy is based on the concept that relieving tension and restrictions to the structures protect the spine and deliver nutrition to it will improve the functioning of the central nervous system, and to decrease neck pain and back pain.

Osteopaths may also practice a modality known as balanced ligamentous tension.