Osteopathic manipulation

Osteopathic manipulation

With a trained medical eye, an osteopath, by working with his hands, can diagnose myriad issues that might have been previously undetectable.

With a trained medical eye, an osteopath, by working with his hands, can diagnose myriad issues that might have been previously undetectable.

by Dr. Glenn S. Chapman — 

Manipulation by a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) is a holistic procedure. When a D.O. puts his hands on you, he is able to diagnose and treat at the same time.

Low back pain, for example, may not always be caused by a blown disk. The problem could be constipation. Osteopaths can free the bowels by manipulating the sacrum, which is the triangular bone between the hips. The sacrum is connected to the pelvic splanchnic nerves, which control the bowel. In the right hands, some constipation can be solved naturally.

Emergency room doctors frequently see cases of costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib to the breastbone. The pain often mimics the pain of a heart attack. Prescription pain relievers are commonly used by the doctors, but don’t solve the problem. Osteopathic manipulation of the back and ribs, however, can resolve the cause of the inflammation simply.

If the chest pain is a cardiac condition, the osteopath can manipulate the thoracic spine to decrease the sympathetic output of the nervous system and decrease the stress on the heart. If the condition is congestive heart failure — where fluids back up in the lungs and legs — along with medication, an osteopath can treat the ribs and diaphragm with manipulation and stimulate the lymphatics so that the lungs can drain and the patient can breathe deeply again.

Osteopathic manipulation is a great boon to women who have recently given birth. During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin which softens all the ligaments so that the pelvis can open to let the baby pass through. After the baby is born, the ligaments harden up. If the new mother’s bones are misaligned, she will solidify a dysfunctional joint as the ligaments tighten back up. One to two weeks after the baby is born, an osteopathic adjustment to balance the body before the ligaments tighten up can save new mothers from this potential chronic pain.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain and clicking in the jaw joints are not always indicative of a malocclusion of the teeth. Sometimes TMJ comes from falling on your tailbone. The sacrum is directly connected to the base of the skull by a long piece of tissue called the dura. When the sacrum is knocked out of whack, it can tug on the base of the skull, commonly resulting in headaches.

The base of the head, the occiput, connects to the mastoid bone, where the jawbone rides, occasionally resulting in TMJ symptoms. A manipulation of the sacrum can resolve the TMJ problems that stem from the tailbone.

With a trained medical eye, an osteopath, by working with his hands, can diagnose myriad issues that might have been previously undetectable. Examples might include an unseen mole that turns out to be a melanoma, a fullness in the liver that is indicative of hepatitis, swelling in one leg that could mean an ovarian or prostate tumor, or a dilation of a pupil which may be indicative of a neurological problem.

No aspect of the human body exists in a vacuum. The vascular, neurological and lymphatic systems are intimately connected to the musculoskeletal and fascial systems of the body. Not everything is structural, though. Sometimes the problem is medical. A good osteopath sees both.

 

Glenn S. Chapman, D.O., is board-certified in neuromusculoskeletal medicine and osteopathic manipulation in pratice in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

From the AzNetNews library, February/March 2009.

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