Osteopathic practitioners identify, assess, and treat the body’s structures and tissues using a manual approach. This fundamental technique is called osteopathic palpation. Manual practitioners spend many years developing and refining the very sensitive sense of touch they need to master osteopathic palpation.

Osteopathic palpation is what makes osteopathy different from other medicines and forms of therapy. Manual practitioners use palpation to treat people according to the four major treatment categories:


Soft Tissue Manipulation

The practitioner uses soft tissue manipulation in many different ways. In general, they use it to evaluate the condition of tissues and to help the body’s fluids (such as blood and lymphatic fluid) flowing smoothly. Keeping fluids flowing smoothly reduces harmful fluid retention and makes the body’s immune system more effective.

Fascia is a soft tissue found in all parts of the body. It connects all of the body’s structures at both superficial and deep levels. Practitioners evaluate the fascia to find areas of restriction and then use soft tissue manipulation to make sure the length and tension of the fascia are properly balanced.

Throughout the treatment, osteopaths keep checking on the state of the body’s tissues. If one technique isn’t working to correct a restriction, they use another approach instead. A well trained Osteopath, like who we have at Continuum, can treat a person according to multiple different treatment approaches to ensure the person is most comfortable and the treatment is most effective.


Osteo-articular techniques

Osteopaths use these techniques to re-align bones for the purpose of:

  • Reducing muscle spasms
  • Ease neurological irritations around joints
  • Increase joint mobility
  • Reduce pain and discomfort

Articular techniques involve gently moving 2 joint surfaces. Before doing this, practitioners carefully prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area. They also move the patient into a position that will minimize, or eliminate the energy and force needed to perform the manoeuvre. Many patients find this technique less forceful than joint manipulations. A click is sometimes heard when the correction is made. This is nothing more than the synovial fluid moving through the joint.

The osteopathic articular technique remains one component of osteopathy. Patients who do not want to have this (or any other) type of technique performed on them are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their practitioner. Well, trained Osteopaths can use other methods to achieve similar results.


Cranial osteopathy

This is the most gentle of osteopathic techniques and it requires the most experience to use effectively. To learn this technique, Osteopaths undergo years of intensive training. Through this training, their hands become sensitive to cranial mobility and develop great precision in utilizing cranial techniques.

Osteopaths use this gentle and specific technique to assess and treat the mobility of the skull and its contents. They may also use it to assess and treat the spine, sacrum, and all other parts of the body.

The goal of this technique is to adjust the body’s physiology by restoring balance to the circulation of the blood and other body fluids as well as ensure proper alignment of the cranial and cervical tissues. Practitioners do this by treating the body’s inherent respiratory mechanism. Practitioners trained in this technique can feel this mechanism in the patient’s head, spinal cord, sacrum and throughout the whole body. Osteopaths use this mechanism to assess a person’s condition as well as to treat the body.


Visceral manipulation

Osteopathic Manual Practitioners use visceral manipulation to treat organs and the viscera of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, bladder and uterus.

People often have pain/discomfort in one or more of these organs due to restrictions and adherences. Osteopaths gently move these structures and the fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds them to restore proper mobility.

Most patients treated with visceral manipulation feel only the gentle pressure of the osteopath’s hand. Corrections of the viscera are powerful enough to improve the mobility of an organ, improve blood flow, and help the organ function more effectively.

The above (and many other) osteopathic techniques and philosophies are used in an organized and methodical fashion to slowly adjust the patients anatomy and physiology towards normal so that the person’s body can heal itself.