Osteopathic treatment types

Musculoskeletal Osteopathy

Musculoskeletal osteopathy is a branch of osteopathy used for treating bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and fascias. Relying on the precise biomechanics of the body, osteopathic laws and principles, since Still’s time until today, a wide range of techniques have been developed that effectively contribute to the functional harmony of all body structures. By gentle palpation and applying osteopathic techniques, osteopaths discover and release tensions and blockages in the body as well as enhance body flow in order to reduce pain, improve mobility and better functioning of the whole body.

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is a very subtle and gentle approach to the treatment of the whole body. This branch of osteopathy explores the intricate structure of the cranium and its huge influence over the whole body due to its connection to the spinal column and the sacrum. It was discovered and established by Dr William Garner Sutherland over a hundred years ago after he realised, while studying the articulations of cranial bones, that cranial sutures were designed to express small degrees of motion. Moreover, he discovered the motion of cranial bones to be closely connected to the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, the central nervous system, the membranes that surround the central nervous system and the sacrum. He called this “breathing”, consisting of the motion of cranial bones and rhythmic impulses, the primary respiratory mechanism – PRM. It is independent of pulse and pulmonary breathing and is expressed at a rate of 8-14 cycles per minute. PRM is indissolubly linked to the mental and emotional health of a person and forms the basis of the rhythmical functioning of local structures and the body as a whole. Dr Sutherland named his discovery Osteopathy in the Cranial Field aiming to emphasise that what he invented was nothing new and that he simply applied the osteopathic point of view and principles to the cranium.

After many years of research, Dr Sutherland demonstrated the existence of this authentic motion in the body and named it The Breath of Life. At a deep level of our physiological functioning, all healthy, living tissues subtly “breathe” with the motion of life and thus create rhythmic impulses that osteopaths are able to palpate by performing sensory testing and applying right techniques. Many osteopaths all around the world have tried to prove the credibility of such testing. In Croatia, within the Academy of Osteopathy, several research studies have been conducted on this topic with the goal to disclose very precise results achieved in sensory test.

Dr Sutherland created the concept of primary respiration and named it the primary respiratory mechanism – PRM:

  1. Primary – It is a system that comes “first.” It underlies all of life’s processes and gives dynamism, form and substance to all of anatomy and physiology.
  2. Respiratory – It is the spark that gives rise to the breath as it moves through the tissues. It is the foundation of metabolism. It consists of two phases: inspiration and expiration.
  3. Mechanism – It is a system composed of many parts that work together to create a whole and is greater than the sum of the parts.

Cranial therapy is an extremely gentle treatment, pleasant for both adults and children. An osteopath, using soft palpation and techniques, helps the body to restore a good PRM. This kind of osteopathic therapy is a valuable contribution to the modern way of life. It is an excellent way to remove all functional issues inside the body, especially to solve problems such as: dizziness, migraines, headaches, jaw joint pain, buzzing in the ears, frequent sinus infections, eye or ear issues, concentration problems, stress after birth, stress after severe or less severe physical traumas; it also represents a great complementary therapy for some neurological problems. This kind of therapy has shown great effectiveness in treating other conditions as well, not only in enhancing physical health of patients, but also their emotional and psychological health.

Visceral Osteopathy

Visceral osteopathy was developed by the famous French osteopath and physiotherapist Jean-Pierre Barral. It helps with functional disorders of internal organs, such as, e.g., digestive disorders, obstipation and intestinal gases, sickness, reflux, swallowing disorders, painful periods and gynaecological problems, influence of menopause, prostate problems, emotional problems, somatovisceral interactions, headaches, migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, post operative problems such as pain, reduced mobility and impaired functions, paediatric problems such as child’s colic, unrest, vomiting and frequent ear infections.

Visceral osteopathy is effective in treating functional and structural imbalance in the whole body, including musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, urogenital, respiratory, digestive and lymphatic dysfunctions. It eliminates negative stress reactions, enhances the mobility of the locomotor system by its connection to the connective tissue and improves metabolism. Osteopaths assess and treat the position, dynamics and vitality of organs, but also membranes, fascias and ligaments connected to a particular organ. By doing so, the proprioceptive communication in the body is enhanced, which leads to the revitalisation of the patient, reduction of symptoms and dysfunctions due to the poor posture.

Osteopaths assess structural relationships between the organs and their fascias or ligaments that connect them to the musculoskeletal systems. Connective tissue tensions can result from surgical traumas, adhesions, diseases, posture or injuries. Tension patterns form through the facial network deep within the body, creating a wide range of imbalances for which the body will have to compensate. This chronic irritation gives way to functional and structural problems.

One common example is an adhesion around the lungs that modifies biomechanical axes of all surrounding tissues. This can lead to altered ribs motion which, in turn, can cause functional respiratory disorders, changes of the vertebral column and, in time, of other structures. There are similar relationships between somatic structures, the fascias, muscles and joints, the sympathetic muscle system, visceral organs, the spinal cord and the brain. Another example of these links is also the relationship between the sinuvertebral nerves, the intervertebral disk, the sympathetic nervous system, the visceral organs or sinuvertebral nerves, the sympathetic nervous system, the spinal cord and the brain. In this way, someone with chronic pain can have irritations not only in the musculoskeletal system, but also the visceral organs and their connective tissues, the peripheral nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system and even the spinal cord and the brain.