What is Osteopathy?

When Luc Vaillancourt, Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, invited me in for an osteopathy session at Toronto’s Inspired Life Health Care Center, my first reaction was to Google “osteopathy.”

So what is osteopathy? According to Luc:

Osteopathy is a manual medicine, using soft manipulations and techniques to re-balance the body… Osteopathy believes that a well balanced body has the inherent capacity of healing itself. If the blood flows freely and nourishes the cells with new oxygen and nutriments, it helps clean the body of dead cells, the nerves work properly, muscles are used at their maximum capability, etc.

I was curious, and took up Luc on his offer. Being in very good health, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to gain anything from the visit. I was wrong.

Luc used a number of techniques to manipulate my body. None of them were painful, and it was actually quite relaxing. Most interestingly, I learned that I have a very slight spinal curvature, known as scoliosis. It’s a very mild case of scoliosis, but something of which I was entirely unaware. Moreover, Luc shared that I have flat feet, and that my right leg is slightly longer than the left. Who knew? Turns out, the shortness of my left leg isn’t structural – it’s simply because of muscle tightness. Luc was able to use a series of very deep stretches and manipulations to return my left leg to its proper length.

So what’s the big deal about a slightly shorter leg? As a runner, I’m on my feet a lot. And although a slightly shorter leg might seem trivial, years of running with uneven impact could translate to an injury down the road. In my case, a visit to the osteopath – and the lengthening of my shortened leg – may have helped prevent that future injury.

Though many of Luc’s patients have existing conditions, he recommends that everyone pays a visit to their local osteopath. “You bring your car in for a tune up,” Luc says, “And you should do the same with your body.” Osteopath visits are sometimes covered by more progressive insurance plans, and generally run from $75 – $150 for a one-hour session.

Have you ever been to osteopath? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. How similar is it to a massage?

    • I was actually hoping it would be more like a massage than it is! There is some very gentle rubbing of the back, etc. but it’s actually quite different. Still very relaxing though!

    • A massage is only a preliminary in order to facilitate the very safe manipulation of the rest of your body man.

  2. Actually osteopathy is a Greek word that means ‘disease of the bones’! Very interesting article nevertheless!

  3. So its a massage. Why don’t we call it what it is instead of making up words used to deceive people it has other health benefits?

  4. I know about osteopathy. It is much more than massage. It sort of a combination between eastern and western fields of thought. I can be very helpful to some people.
    By all means if you can see one do. Like all medical professionals though check out their background. Osteopathy done improperly can hurt.

  5. This is a very deceiving article. Osteopathic medicine is NOT massage. Osteopathic doctors go to medical school for four years and learn the exact same stuff as MDs. It’s far more accurate to say that osteopathy simply takes a more holistic approach to medicine while still incorporating traditional care offered by your standard MD. I’m a big fan of yours Davey but this is a gross misrepresentation of what Osteopathy is about and I’m rather offended.

    THIS is what real osteopathic medicine is about:

    http://www.aacom.org/about/osteomed/pages/default.aspx

    • Of course it’s not a massage. When did I say it was?

      • That was more a response to other people’s comments and less of an accusation towards you. Sorry for the confusion Davey! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I also realized that what you were referring to was non-physician osteopaths as opposed to doctors of osteopathy, two very different, though likely both legitimate, fields of medicine. I was confused because the US doesn’t allow non-physician osteopaths like this. Sorry I didn’t realize that before I posted my message. :/

    • As an Osteopathic physician myself, and one in his residency training for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, I am inclined to concur with several of your statements.

      Osteopathic Physicians in the United States are trained in 4 year medical schools and fully licensed as Physicians by the US government. This means that if you visit a surgeon, primary care doctor, rheumatologist, etc., they can either carry the degree of MD (medical doctor) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy). Many of you US folk probably have without realizing you were seeing an Osteopathic physician. With that being said, training in Osteopathy is not the same everywhere. In Europe, “Osteopaths” are much like chiropractors, in that they are trained exclusively in manual medicine, and lack medical training.

      Like any modality used to treat, Osteopathic manipulation can be utilized as an adjunct to care. There are always crazy healthcare providers(whether MDs, DOs, chiropractors, etc.) who think that they can “cure” disease using such things as spinal manipulation, herbal remedies, and other such nonsense. The truth is, we have multiple modalities for treating illness for a reason, some work, and some do not.

      There is mounting evidence that manipulation can be effective in treating mechanical problems, and like acupuncture, trigger point injections, muscle energy, are readily being adopted by the overarching “medical community.” I regularly practice Osteopathic manipulation, and teach my techniques to MDs, physical therapists and other providers.

      I use manual medicine in combination with medications, physical therapy, exercise, injections, etc. to restore function after an injury, motor vehicle accident, and other physical ailments. Most DOs do not practice manual medicine any longer. We are all taught it in medical school, but most stop using it when they go into practice. Because I am in a medical specialty that demands physical solutions to physical problems, it only makes sense that I utilize these techniques. It seems to be a dying art in the U.S.

      I have a great deal more to say, but I hope this clears up a few things. I am proud to be a DO… (can you tell I recently graduated??)

      Davey, I’m in Providence, RI for another year during residency, if ever you are interested in learning more.

      -Ben

  6. sounds very much like massage therapy. Touch does the body GOOD !!!!

  7. sounds interesting have you tried Homeopathic medicines, i think its quite interesting I have always been into using herbal medicines and sometimes medicines that let the body do the healing pharmacuetical drugs are invasive and can damage the body, and personally pharmacueticals are very strong for me. So ever since i was young i always did alot of research and now i hardly ever take any medicine for my symptoms i have (exception of Nyquil the best for colds) but i always take vitamins and alot of healthy foods in my diet. when you pay more attention to your body the more it feels better, remember you only have one body so what you do with it throughout your life will be a result of how it feels when you age :o)

    • Homeopathic medicines have no effect on the body. They are active ingredients that under go repeated dilutions until there is mathematically no active ingredient remaining in what you consume. You are literally taking nothing.

      I don’t doubt that things like osteopathy and chiropractic can be relaxing, but when people start using them to cure disease, it begins to frustrate me. Aligning your spine in no way helps your immune system fight disease.

      With these types of practices, you have to be cautions of the placebo effect. At the beginning of the article you said you were healthy, but after you were told what was fixed, you suddenly noticed their effect.

      I normally love your insight, but please just remain cautions when you try medical practices that have zero scientific basis.

  8. It similar to Chiropractic….

  9. Althou i do not know deeply enough about the research done into Osteopathy, i find it odd when you say that Davey should be wary that ‘after you [Davey] were told what was fixed, you suddenly noticed their effect.’

    I am 24 and only recently discovered thru a blood test for something else that i have a condition called Shougrannes Disease which caises my body to fight mild infections to aggressively allowing more potent ones to infect me.

    I havent know about this, and assumed that my occasionally severe infections were just bad luck… But by your logic i should assume that the doctor found somehin because he WANTED to.

    Just because someone finds something you didnt know about, doesnt mean their justifying their payment… Most of the time it means they’ve done their job…

    -J-

    • If i made it sound like this was necessarily the case, I apologize. I merely meant to say it was something to be cautious about.

      However, you bring up a good point. Your condition was discovered by a test. I’m curious if his legs were measured, or if some sort of running test was preformed to see if there was any effect. I’m also curious how this doctor know it was muscle tension if he didn’t measure the bones and other connective tissues.

      Again, I’m only bringing up points to be skeptical about. If it makes you feel good, do it. The only thing I oppose is when people avoid scientific treatment when they need it, and opt for inert substances (homeopathy) and things like that.

      • A leg being shorter is a standard response to back tension. My aunt is a physical therapist and she married into a family with bad backs – basically she says lay flat on the floor without shoes…do your heals line up evenly…if a leg is short then work out your lower back muscles and hips.

        In my family the left leg draws up as the back tightens. I notice it when I’m walking. A few stretches later and my hip will drop back into place.

  10. About 40 years ago, after years of the most crippling back pain, I went in total desperation to an “Osteopath” When Osteopathy and Chiropractic were regarded as nothing more than witchcraft.As I said previosly it was a total act of a desperate man. The next stage was ,Who knows. At the end of one hour the “Person who was one step from being a witch” said you may now jump off the table. I did as I was asked,knowing that I would probably colapse in a heap and require Spinal Surgery. Not a bit of it. The pain that I had endured for many years was no more. I returned for one more massage and manipulation. I have been completly free of back pain for the past 40 years. Not one specialist whom I had had the misfortune to consult could detect a curvature of the spine , yet the Osteopath who was not recognised as a legitimate health practitioner diagnosed it in about 10 seconds.

  11. christopher says:

    this has all something to do with the bones-drink plenty of milk and dairy like yogurt-cheese-etc etc.that helps-if you were a vegetarian-i would worry about the absence of dairy-were talking brittle broken bones-and susceptible to numerous injuries especially down the line with age.

  12. Thanks for Sharing this very useful and advance treatment. I am suffering from lower back pain because of inequality in legs so I am using The Back Leveler Kit. Even it is very useful and a new advance technique to remove the pain and adjust level of legs. Keep it up the nice work.

  13. I think several people have taken this wrong. It is not a basic massage. It is a combination of several types of thinking and mechanical manipulations. Just like your bed molds to the way you sleep, the muscles of the body adjust and hold a pattern until released. Which is what Davey is talking about with his leg. Over time this becomes harmful, then leads to injury. We’ve all seen TV ads for alignment products. Due to our daily lives most of us are walking around out of balance & out of alignment. Any good PT will tell you the same. So seeing an osteopath sounds like good medicine and common sense to me. All the things like seeing a massage therapist, or acupuncture, even a chiropractor does us a huge amount of good. Most people wait to long, the damage is done before we see a DR about an issues. I bet most of us spend more in a given month eating out Vs what we would spend on Preventative maintenance. In today’s world an once of prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure.. No matter your age or health status. Being proactive is the key. Your Dr isn’t going to say it, because it’s up to you. Davey, you didn’t think you would find anything when you went to see the Osteopath due to your age and health status. prevention is the key. Fixing the problem once done is much harder and more costly.

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