How does osteopathy work?

Osteopathy aims to improve all bodily functions, parts and systems. It is based on the philosophy that the body itself has a natural ability to both self-regulate and self-heal. For this process to happen, unhindered circulation is essential. It includes: blood, lymph, synovial fluid, digestion, cerebrospinal fluid and every other internal or extracellular fluids. Bodily fluids can contain hormones, enzymes and their secretions, immunologic and anti-inflammatory factors, nutritional elements and oxygen.

Blockages that hinder the circulation of all bodily fluids, impede movement and hamper normal body functions are called osteopathic lesions. They are the focus of both osteopathic evaluation and treatments. Osteopathic lesions are functional lesions that can be physiological or non-physiological and are to be distinguished from medical pathological lesions. Blockages can even include emotional patterns that the body has adopted, but which are often reactions to stressful past or present incidents or simply learned body movements adopted by a person and repeated in specific situations. Structural changes lead to organ and tissue function disturbances and vice versa.

In time, the body gradually loses the capacity for both self-regulation and self-healing, which can be brought on by the process of ageing, trauma, accidents, disease, surgical scars, birth, repeated actions or cumulative effects of mental, emotional or physical stresses. In most cases, patients have experienced a combination of the above mentioned. The symptoms can manifest locally in the body or, more commonly, can be experienced far away from the root cause of a disease. For this reason, osteopaths need to examine the whole body. Many of the compensation processes accumulated during life can be found on external surfaces of the body and it is often the case that, when the body cannot withstand any new changes, it “rips apart” at its weakest part, usually because of something seemingly very insignificant. At first sight, it can seem that no significant changes have taken place by the time the patient comes to see an osteopath. In Croatia, the osteopathic practice is in its early days. Therefore, it happens frequently that patients visit osteopaths already having a high grade of body compensations and not knowing where else to seek help. If there are no pathological signs present, osteopaths are likely to suspect that there are some functional disorders in the body that cause problems. Unless treated, these problems might result in pathological changes at a later time.