Osteopathy is a form of physical or manual therapy. It seeks to find and treat the physical impediments that are primarily responsible for preventing an individual’s body from being, feeling, and functioning at its optimal level. The assessment of the patient is like detective work, while the treatment is surprisingly gentle. Only the hands of the practitioner are used in the assessment and treatment. Osteopathy is unlike chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, or physiotherapy. It is best understood by experiencing it, as the sensation is unique and not comparable to those other well-known therapies.
Osteopathic philosophy recognizes that a person’s symptoms (other than in cases of acute trauma) take a long time to develop. A number of complex interacting factors, such as previous accidents or injuries, falls, surgeries, illnesses, pregnancies, or even major dental work, may be preventing the person from improving as rapidly as he or she anticipated. Poor posture and undue stress can also contribute to the state of the condition. By combining the patient’s history with the use of the hands in detecting areas of diminished mobility, the osteopathic assessment focuses on finding the cause of the symptoms, whether near to or distant from the person’s area of complaint. The treatment attempts to help the body normalize any areas of dysfunction. Thus, it is actually the patient who heals himself or herself; the practitioner's role is to facilitate the initiation and guidance of the process.
A commonly asked question is whether osteopathic practitioners do cranial sacral work. Not only do they do cranial sacral work, but it was an osteopathic physician who developed the concept! Osteopathic practitioners have been practicing, teaching, and using cranial osteopathy since the 1940s. It should be noted that cranial osteopathy is only one of the many approaches used by osteopathic practitioners. Other approaches include musculoskeletal normalizations, connective tissue release, visceral work, and restorative exercise. Together, these treatment modalities are used to assist the patient in returning to his or her ultimate level of health and well-being.
Unfortunately, not all patients will fully recover from their condition or illness. In such cases, osteopathy can be beneficial in assisting those individuals to become more comfortable in their current or deteriorating state of health.
Osteopathy from a legal perspective in Ontario
There are two forms of osteopathy practiced in Canada. Osteopathic medicine is practiced by osteopathic physicians (DOs), who are licensed medical practitioners and have graduated from osteopathic medical colleges in the United States. According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the title osteopath is reserved for members of this provincial organization (see the Canadian Osteopathic Association website for further details1). However, the medical practitioners prefer to be known as osteopathic physicians, because they practice osteopathic medicine. The majority of osteopathic practitioners in Ontario are not physicians. Many of these professionals refer to themselves as osteopathic manual practitioners to distinguish themselves from medically trained and licensed physicians.
The World Health Organization2 and the Osteopathic International Alliance3 recognize both forms of practitioner: physician and nonphysician. Unfortunately, the Canadian Osteopathic Association4 rejects the World Health Organization’s document, Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy, and with it the recognition of nonphysician practitioners of osteopathy. Nevertheless, many of the osteopathic services provided by osteopathic manual practitioners are reimbursed* by many of the major insurance companies in Ontario. * Insurance company reimbursement*, in whole or in part, varies depending upon individual or group plans (e.g., employer-sponsored, government-sponsored, or association-sponsored plans). Ch
eck with your company for reimbursement details. Osteopathic manual practitioners who are educated in the province of Ontario are given the professional designation of D.O.M.P. (Diploma of Osteopathy Manual Practitioner) or DOMTP (Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Therapy Practice).5
Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO) :http://www.osteopathyontario.org/
Canadian Federation of Osteopaths (CFO): https://www.osteopathy.ca/
Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA): http://oialliance.org/