“Osteopathy can help treat many musculoskeletal conditions“
Some of the conditions an osteopath can treat:
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Thorax and rib pain
- Joint pain upper and lower limbs
- Arthritic pain
- Chronic pain management
- Nerve impingement
- Pelvic pain
- Sports injuries
- jaw pain
- Muscle pain
The following section describes some of the most common complaints I see:
Low Back Pain (LBP)
Research shows that LBP is the world’s leading cause of disability and is a major cause of work days lost per year. It can manifest itself in myriad ways and can also be debilitating for the individual suffering with it.
As an osteopath it is essential to correctly identify the potential cause of the LBP which can be mechanical or non-mechanical.
Mechanical LBP accounts for approximately 97% of LBP cases. It can emanate from muscle or ligament injury, reduced disc height or injury, joint instability or nerve compression. LBP can be acute (less than 6 weeks) sub acute (6 – 12 weeks) or chronic (more than 12 weeks) and may be treated successfully with osteopathic treatment. Treatment approaches will depend on the cause of the LBP and what factors are maintaining it such as habits and lifestyle.
Non mechanical LBP are conditions that are generally not activity related. This type of LBP can arise from infections, inflammatory/rheumatological disorders, tumours, severe trauma, metabolic diseases, acquired disorders and pain that is referred from visceral organs. In the population of people with LBP these disorders are comparatively rare and require a careful examination to establish a diagnosis from an appropriate clinician. If any such conditions are suspected, the patient will be referred as necessary for further investigation.
However, some patients may be already managed for some of these conditions, such as axial sponyloarthropathies (arthritic/ inflammatory conditions of the spine). Osteopathic treatment may help to manage the symptoms of some of these conditions, but it is not a cure.
There are at least 650 muscles in the human body that help us to move, lift, breath and maintain posture. It’s not a surprise that at times pain can arise from some of these structures (also known as myalgia).
Pain in these structures can be caused by muscle strains potentially from overuse, muscular imbalances or sudden overload from an activity. There may also be an underlying joint issue that the muscle is attempting to protect or compensate for. Widespread muscle pain may be as a result of a viral infection or other chronic syndromes such as fibromyalgia.
Before a treatment commences it is important to get an understanding of the mechanism of injury and history of any previous injuries and general health that may contribute to the current issue.
The good news is that muscle tissue has a rich blood and nerve supply and has the capacity to heal rather more quickly compared to other tissues in the body. In general muscle injuries could take up to a few weeks to recover. Ligaments can take months and tendons up to 18 months depending on the severity of the injury.
Sports injuries can occur more frequently than we would wish for and can keep us from performing the sport that we love.
In general there are intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can cause an injury.
Intrinsic factors can be controlled by the individual. These types of injuries include muscle strains, potential ligament strains and tendonopathies. They can be influenced by how we train for our sport, for example, repeated muscle strain from overuse. This may arise from an increase in stiffness of the tendon associated with the muscle and a decrease in strength of that muscle. An intelligent approach to how we train can keep us performing at optimum capacity for our chosen sport and reduce the potential for any more injuries occurring.
Extrinsic factors are outside of our control and are considered risk factors that we generally accept as a participant. These injuries occur from force outside of our body such as a rugby tackle or a strike in martial arts.
Many of these issues can be treated osteopathically with consideration of biomechanics of the body as a whole and the factors that predispose and maintain the occurrence of the injury.
Our joints are fascinating structures. They all have a unique shape and function throughout the body and limbs. The health of the joints are dependant on the tissues both inside and surrounding the joint and also the joints above and below the site of pain.
There are many causes of joint pain including sports injuries that result in damage to ligaments, cartilage or joint capsule; rheumatic/autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and some spinal conditions (spondyloarthropathies); metabolic conditions such as osteoarthritis and developmental conditions such as Perthes.
Osteopaths invariably treat joints to help to improve symptoms, mobility and function and to help reduce pain. Treatment approaches may include articulation of the joint, traction or manipulation depending on the circumstances of the individual.