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Applied principles of Osteopathy.

11 April 2013

A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.

Alexander Pope Essay on Criticism

It has been said many times that osteopathy is an art form.


It certainly has aspects of a practical art and those of an applied science, the two methods by which a culture is built up and put into use.

The osteopathic principles were laid down in an attempt to put the new healthcare paradigm on a logical systematic scientific basis so that information could be accommodated in a paradigm shift from the older medical models.

Why does osteopathy need principles? To construct its own worldview, to help give value to the sets of observations made by osteopaths and because it is a system of healthcare that relies on the application of the physiological and mechanical properties of the human body but lacks the systematic assessment of the outcomes in patients.

Osteopathy developed in protest to the medicine that was prevalent at the time of its inception. Medicine has come a long way since then but we have perhaps not.

Perhaps we haven’t needed to.

Osteopathic principles like hygiene and dietetics, for example, have become popular with other healthcare approaches.

We work to adjust the patient to themselves and their environments and help them adjust their environment or at least to recognise that they have an environmental lesion

The basic life block is the cell and its fluid environment.
Osteopathic technique that seeks to have some effect on the life processes of the body must have an effect on the environment of the cell.

Nerve and blood affect the cell.

Blood is a tissue, cellular and fluid, in an hydraulic system.
It’s also mixed with fresh lymph at the heart so what leaves the heart to perfuse the rest of the tissues is what the cells of the body have already secreted in response to humoral stimuli.

Freedom of movement throughout the hydraulic system decreases the resistance to flow and reduces the stresses within the myocardium. We reduce energy demands when we rotate limbs while improving tissue perfusion without requiring an overall increase in work for the system, unlike a walk in the park.

The gravital load on the body is part of the field we operate in and like the air the patient breathes the constant stress is part of being alive and is best handled without strain.

The patient’s body responds to our mechanical ministrations in both chemical and reflex ways, as our tissue handling changes the way load is distributed throughout the body. The pre-existing state of the nervous system will determine the responses to our work and the patient will react to treatment in a way they have learned to. Input does not determine output.

The term osteopathic lesion was used to emphasise the physiological nature of our diagnosis and treatment as it was used to focus the necessary attention on restoring the health of the patient, without which any results of treatment would likely be fleeting as the lack of integration between the internal and external environment led to a failure of adaptation.

The ability to adapt is one definition of health, it’s a principle of osteopathy and we adjust a patient in an attempt to facilitate this

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