Life is a process in which the Change is the only constant meaning that the main characteristic is motion. Where life is present, motion is also present. Motion or movement inside a balanced, healthy body of a living thing there is fluid and rhythmical. For an individual health, free movement within the body structures is vital. In some way when the movement is disrupted the function is disturbed. Disrupted movements are the changed state that comes about prior to the surfacing of a disease. Osteopathy values the implication of even the slightest movement inside the body's tissues and cells, and relates this knowledge in its exceptional form in medical care (Parsons & Marcer, 2005).
Simply stated, a state of health exists when there is a balance in the motion of the body. Once this motion is interfered with, the health of an individual is affected and thus a disease can surface. For instance, when blood vessel walls gets harder and thicker- that may be as a result of an imbalance in the blood contents- then problems may arise in the circulation of the blood.
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Osteopathic physicians apply a "whole person" approach to medicine, where rather than treating the symptoms only the whole person is treated (Ward & Hruby, 2002). They vary from other practitioners as they emphasize the importance of the musculoskeletal system, proper nutrition, holistic medicine, and environmental factors to maintain a good health. Osteopaths employ a hands-on approach to medicine and often influence or palpate as part of treatment and diagnosis.
The highly developed sense of touch of the osteopathic physician permits the doctor to palpate or experience this motion and using their trained hands to administer osteopathic manipulative treatments. The treatments ease disturbances and develop the patients' energy and function.
Not only is osteopathy a set of techniques but also it is a science and philosophy founded on the sound principles application. Osteopathy is the information of anatomy useful to healing (Stone, 1999). The osteopath finds free movement within the joints. In treatment, the osteopath targets to achieve a positive effect on the functions of the body, though working directly on the structure.
The philosophy and science of osteopathy is generally based on the following principles:
1. Structure and Function are interrelated
By considering function along with structure, osteopathic concepts emphasize the role of the body's communication systems. The term facilitation means the enhancement or reinforcement of all the different body parts and how they work and relate with each other. The term structure refers to the bones, muscles, fascia, ligaments and organs. Osteopathic philosophy teaches that structures and function are interdependent; and that form follows function.
According to Osteopathy, anatomy is always alive and the dynamic, rhythmic motion is constant. Cerebral spinal fluid, lymphatic drain and blood flows fluctuates. Each of the organs smoothly moves as they function (Stone, 1999). Every structure has its own intrinsic rhythmic activity. When this motion becomes impaired, the tissues will not perform their function as required. Thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are in a blended and complex relationship that can affect both anatomy (structure) and philosophy (function).
2. The Body is a Single Dynamic Unit of Function
Osteopathic emphasizes the dynamic unity of the individual human being and the interrelated aspect of form and function, where there is little room to consider the individual organs as having meaningful function independent from the whole being. The nervous system that integrates and connects all the functions of the body, the circulatory system that delivers blood to all the organs and tissues, the connective tissue matrix (fascia); all aid in organizing the body into a united whole (Stone, 1999). No particular part that exists independently. When one part is not functioning optimally, the entire system is affected. When thinking of interconnectedness of the body, an osteopath has to have in mind all of the systems.
3. The Body Possesses Self-Regulatory and Self-Healing Mechanisms
The body has its own repair; self regulating and self healing process and when it is impended it might result to ill health. When such a state of discord arises, the body has a healing mechanism or force that performs to reinstate functional equilibrium and harmony. At times the self-healing forces of the body might be damaged or obstructed by structural imbalance or diseases. The osteopathic doctor is skilled to boost these essential mechanisms in helping the body to heal it self faster.
4. The circulatory channels and nerves provide an integrating and supportive framework. The body fluid contains the blood, lymph, which cleans and drains body tissues, spinal fluid which drains, nurtures and supports the central nervous system. Good circulation of the body fluids is very important when achieving a good health. Poor circulation of the blood results in cells starving of what they need to survive, and eventually dying. Movement of body fluids and good blood supply is thus essential for optimal health (Ward & Hruby, 2002). Equally, the need to have an effective drainage through the veins and lymph vessels is vital from the area
5. Osteopathy considers the masculoskeletal system as 'the primary machine of life' and that the masculoskeletal system's role far exceeds that of providing framework and support (McKone, 2001).
Osteopaths try to analyze how the homeostatic mechanisms of the body could have allowed the body to become diseased in the first place. This includes exploring the state of soft tissues of the body-from the muscles, ligaments and articular capsules to the state of connective tissues and fascial sheaths and the state of the tissues of the internal organs of the body and how they interface with homeostasis.
6. In osteopathic treatment these principles are applied with a sound and thorough knowledge of physiology and anatomy. Treatment is aimed towards eliminating obstacles preventing the healing process from taking place spontaneously as the cure process takes place inside the body of the patient.