I mean it’s quite useless to try to sum up what osteopathy is in a few lines on a website or on a blog. And yet I am going to make you see the founding ideas around which it was built. I do hope I will not betray AT Still’s thought.
The human being is made of functional units which represent a whole. For example a cell is a functional unit that breathes and feeds, breaks down nutrients, evacuates them like all the cells around them which are going to make a tissue which in its turn, will become a functional unit. The latter will fit in an organ, a bone and will make another functional unit still connected to the previous ones and which will fit in another functional unit and so on…
If one of the cells dysfunctions, it may disrupt the neighbouring ones, disrupting by the way the local environment then the regional one, and even more distant functional units. But as all these cells are interconnected, some other cells can rescue the failing unit. It means that your body is able to self-heal and to adapt (for example when you cut yourself, you coagulate, when you are wounded, the tissue heals spontaneously). Sometimes these self-healing powers may be exceeded, that’s where osteopathy plays a role. A T Still who has never mentioned this self-healing strength, spoke instead of Nature and insisted on the fact that it’s Nature that heals all wounds, the osteopath is just here to help it express itself anew.
So the structure (anatomy) and the function (physiology) are two functional units which are closely linked and inseparable. A T Still said that “Osteopathy is this science which helps the body to restore its normal balance between anatomy and physiology.
Any dysfunction of the musculoskeletal framework will then create a disruption of the physiology either locally or in the distance impairing health”, that is to say the self-healing powers.
The osteopath will then try to understand where these two units are no longer interconnected, and then lose their capacity of working together harmoniously and by the way open doors to disease. He will try to know the true reason of this disconnection by carrying out a gentle hands-on examination in order to determine the area of the biggest dysfunction. Thanks to this examination, he will then decide which technique is the most appropriate to re-establish the self-healing powers, locally and globally. The functional units will then have a good blood fluidic flow, a good nerve function and a normal mobility.
When teaching, A.T Still said that “harmony is where obstructions don’t exist”.
Osteopathy tries to give back to the body its self-healing powers rather than treat a symptom. As for the symptom, A.t Still said “treating a symptom would be as strange for an osteopath as taking care of the smoke rather than putting out the fire for a fireman.”