If you have ever had an aching back, stiff neck, tennis elbow, ‘gammy’ knee or some such affliction of the body, then the chances are that you have sought the help of, or have been advised by someone to go to a Sudbury osteopath for relief. If, however, you have, or have had, a more serious health problem such as asthma, migraine headaches, angina pains, digestive disturbances (to name but a few examples), then it has probably not occurred to you that the condition might have some of its origins in a dysfunction of some mechanical component of the body, the musculo-skeletal system. You would, therefore, probably not have taken such a problem to an osteopath practitioner.
Surprising as it may seem, many such ‘illnesses’ are often the end result of biomechanical changes in the structure of the body which are amenable to osteopathic treatment. This theme will be elaborated on in later chapters, and some of the fascinating research that has been done in a wide range of health problems will be detailed. At this stage, the idea of osteopathy offering help to conditions other than the more obvious aches and pains may seem a strange one. In order to understand the concept of osteopathy, and what its real potentials are, it is necessary to examine its roots and subsequent development.
Osteopathy is a system of health care which recognizes that the self-healing, self-regulating ability of the body is dependent upon a number of factors, including favourable environmental conditions (internal and external), adequate nutrition and normal structural integrity. It utilizes generally accepted methods of diagnosis, as well as certain specialised ones developed to facilitate accurate structural assessment. It places special emphasis upon the importance of body mechanics, and uses manipulative techniques to detect and correct, faulty structure and function.