Your osteopathic consultation – how does it work?

The concept of Health is fundamental for an osteopath.

Health is not merely the absence of symptoms; it is also a good balance of functioning and a state of well-being in harmony with the environment.

Osteopathic treatment depends on these priority considerations.

When a patient consults an osteopath, the osteopath first carries out a deep anamnesis (recollection of complete history).

The osteopath listens to the patient’s complaints and asks about his or her medical and surgical history as well as about lifestyle habits and the socio-psychological context. S/he also takes note of the results of different para-clinical tests that the patient may have in his or her possession (e.g., x-rays, scans, nuclear magnetic resonance, blood tests). S/he also takes into account not only the affection, but looks at the patient as a whole, carrying out a holistic clinical examination.

At this time, the osteopath is careful to identify any pathologies that do not indicate osteopathic treatment. If s/he discovers this kind of disease, s/he will refer the patient to his or her general practitioner or a competent specialist.

The osteopath then practices a clinical approach specific to osteopathy. The osteopath combines the usual clinical examinations and a set of precise tests adapted to osteopathic examination; s/he evaluates the quality of movement, and by using palpation, identifies any restrictions of joint and tissue mobility, including any in the visceral area.

In this way the osteopath uncovers the various somatic (1) dysfunctions causing the patient’s complaints.

The osteopath then chooses therapeutic techniques according to the patient’s case, the osteopathic assessment, the patient’s pathology, age, weight, treatment evolution and so on. Each patient thus benefits from a treatment specifically adapted to his/her individual case. This treatment is re-evaluated at each consultation through a series of preliminary tests.

The treatment essentially aims to eliminate the somatic dysfunctions brought to light by the clinical examination.

These techniques are always done gently; they are neither aggressive nor traumatizing. They can be applied, as necessary, to any level of the body (visceral as well as musculoskeletal) (2)

Osteopathy can also soothe the patient and allow him or her to rediscover correct functioning at the level achieved, and from there, even a balanced overall functioning!

(It is not uncommon to find that other symptoms not mentioned by the patient have improved or disappeared after a treatment. For example, effectively treated lumbago may also result in improved intestinal transit or better sleep.)

Restoring mobility in this way also allows self-regulatory mechanisms to engage, thus allowing the organism to find its own balance, promote its powers of self-defence and through these, rediscover health. (3)

(1) Somatic dysfunction describes a problem of body functioning. It is a question of a mechanical dysfunction with modification of articular amplitude and tissue tension. It is commonly known as a “blockage.”

(2) These manipulative techniques are either functional, of high speed and low amplitude, or myotensive. They can also consist of the association or combination of the different techniques. In all cases, they are perfectly adapted to the individual patient.

(3) The treatment also aims to reactivate or stimulate the organism’s defensive functions.

“Each person possesses self-regulatory mechanisms which, supported by an adequate environment, tend to return to a state of balance.” (Still) Osteopathy restores function to the structure (bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, supportive tissue, organs and even the cells), and aims to restore integrity to the circulatory systems (blood, lymph) and to the nervous system, which are among the most important guarantors of good health.