by Dee McMath
Osteopathy is the diagnosis and treatment of the body, using expertise and knowledge of the overall structure and each related function of all the body's parts. This is a form of non-evasive healing, carried out by fully qualified Osteopaths.
Osteopathy was founded by Dr. Andrew Still in the 19th century. He went against traditional medicine, believing that the body was well equipped to fight disease with the help of natural stimulation the immune system. He discovered how to diagnose and help cure problems by stimulation of tissues and fluids. The osteopath, like the chiropractor, sees the body as a machine and uses manual manipulation. But whereas the chiropractor concentrates on the bones, joints and back - the osteopath focuses on joints, surrounding muscles and ligaments.
Osteopathy is available in Andalucia and can often be found along with other alternative remedies in the traditional spas in the area. For example the Carratraca Spa in the province of Málaga, known for its healing sulphur water cures, also offers osteopathy. There are also many clinics and osteopaths practicing along the Costa del Sol who are English speaking. There is a free English language newspaper called 'Sur' which comes out every Friday where some osteopaths advertise in the Health Section. You can also ask at a local Health Food Shop (Herboristería), where there may even be leaflets with information on osteopathy locally.
The principle of osteopathy is for the body to self heal, with the help of the hands on treatment of the practitioner. By manual manipulation, normal function is restored to the body. Many complaints can be treated, including: neck & back problems, sciatica, asthma, traumatic injury, sports injury, allergies, bronchitis and sinusitis.
Depending on the extent of the problem, it may take several sessions to cure. If you have a chronic problem, which has arisen over many years, it will probably take a long time to undo the damage caused. Although treatments vary depending on the complaint, the overall aim is to bring the body back to its normal state and thus allow the natural flow of fluids through bones, muscles, tissue and organs. A first session will most likely take about an hour, as the osteopath will ask you for a detailed medical history and will discuss your complaint. Future visits will be about 30 minutes and will be in the form of manual manipulation. Most people report a feeling of calmness and relaxation after a session and it is likely that you will notice better sleep patterns, which is part of the healing process. Once we are asleep and strains are released our body is relaxes. This is when the body does most work in self-healing, which in turn forms part of the major principle of osteopathy.
As with chiropractic and although equally unlikely, there is very small risk of spinal damage or a stroke due to high velocity manipulation of the back where, for example, there is an undetected tumour. For this reason, it is always best to visit your doctor if you are considering osteopathy and have a general check up before starting any treatment. It is also very important to make sure the practitioner is properly qualified. Never be afraid to ask for details of training and experience.