Alternative Medicine

Osteopathy: Lesser-Known Branch of Alternative Medicine

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

When you hear the words “alternative medicine,” you probably think of homeopathy, herbal remedies, perhaps even acupuncture. Osteopathy is another natural medical practice that fits under the alternative-medicine umbrella – but it’s less well known than its more famous, and often more controversial, cousins.

Osteopathy is a technique that practitioners believe can help heal the body. It involves massage, stretching, and manipulation of joints. Osteopaths say it works because all parts of the body – skin, muscles, tissue, bones, nerves, ligaments, and so on – are connected to one another. Osteopathy realigns the musculoskeletal structure and promotes proper blood flow, which is said to assist in pain relief.

Craniosacral therapy is part of osteopathy. Osteopaths place their hands on the patient’s head and tune in to what they call the “craniosacral rhythm.” This is thought to be a pulsing movement located in the spinal fluid: it comes in waves, and osteopaths say it’s responsible for the quality of a patient’s health. Osteopaths gently massage the patient’s head and manipulate the spine. This treatment is said to release restrictions of the nerve passages, realign cranial bones, and optimize the flow of spinal fluid. Practitioners of craniosacral therapy say it can relieve back and neck pain, headaches and migraines, stress, and TMJ, a jaw disorder that causes tension and pain. It’s also used to treat chronic pain of any kind.

Osteopaths go to school to obtain qualifications that allow them to practice. Universities who offer osteopathy programs include Michigan State, New York Institute of Technology, and William Carey University. The programs are generally four years in length.

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Each state in the US has an osteopathic medical board that grants licenses to qualified practitioners. This regulation ensures that patients can find certified osteopaths who have undergone the necessary training, rather than people who have simply decided to call themselves osteopathic practitioners.

Originally published at GrannyMed