Common reasons to visit an osteopath
Migraines & Headaches
For some people, headaches and migraine pain can be chronic and debilitating. Whether your headaches are caused by prolonged muscle tightness, stress-related tension, sinus pressure or posture, osteopathy can help provide relief in all of these areas. Prolonged muscle tightness in the neck and shoulder areas can cause the joints, muscles and nerves to compress, which can lead to pain. Poor circulation to the brain can also create a cycle of pain and discomfort.
Osteopathy is a gentle and non-invasive alternative and complementary therapy that aims to optimize the natural function of the body. Using manual techniques to address areas of tension, an osteopath relieves restrictions so that the body can use its own natural ability to promote optimal circulation, which can aid many body systems and lead to less migraines and headaches.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is comprised of the temporal bone, the mandibular condyle, and the disc in between. Four ligaments and the lateral pterygoid muscle participate in joint function. An osteopathic can re-align the various components of the joint and release muscles in the mouth and neck to alleviate pain and dysfunction.
Neck pain from posture or tension can be aided with various techniques to release tissue and help alignment. Forward Head Posture can be addressed through techniques that release the respiratory accessory muscles and the hyoid bone. The neck is designed to be flexible, unfortunately, this flexibility also leaves the neck vulnerable to injury, especially when the torso moves in one direction and the head moves in another. An osteopath can help calm the tissues and reduce inflammation which can increase circulation and promote healing as well as relieve any nerves being compressed by inflammation.
An osteopath can help eliminate restrictions causing nerve pain and numbness originating in the neck and back as well as the face and cranium. Arnold's neuropathy and trigeminal nerve pain are common complaints and can often be relieved by treating the cranial nerves and relieving tissues in the neck and mouth. Whether your nerve pain is due to a restriction of a compressed nerve or due to inflammation from an injury, an osteopath can work on the tissues and musculoskeletal structure to allow for more movement and circulation. An osteopath can similarly help with vertigo.
Median nerve pain and numbness
Repetitive use & Sport Injuries
Osteopaths can play an important role in many structural ailments, both acute and chronic as well as sports injuries, especially ones that have developed progressively. Because an osteopath evaluates your structure and biomechanics, they can determine if there is unwanted friction in particular areas. Individuals with reduced mobility due to pain and stiffness can benefit as well. An osteopath will mobilize your musculoskeletal structure in order to eliminate restrictions and promote optimal movement, this in turn will result in reducing friction and inflammation as well prevent the reoccurrence of injury by addressing the alignment and biomechanical movement.
A joint that is restricted or stiff due to repetitive movements and compromised posture, can cause inflammation and create compression on the nerve causing tingling, numbness and pain.
Techniques can be done actively or passively depending on the situation. Anyone with reduced mobility, including the elderly, are encouraged to come as physical mobility is a key to a healthy life and longevity.
The OIA (Osteopathic International Alliance) is the primary international organization entrusted by the osteopathic profession to work for global osteopathic unity and to advocate for high quality, osteopathic health care. Members of the OIA provide care for athletes and athletic teams at all levels of sport, including local, professional and even at the Olympics. All athletes should integrate osteopathic therapy into their training as it can help you avoid repetitive friction injuries. In collaboration with your trainer and physiotherapist, an osteopath can keep you injury free and optimize your performance.
Back pain and Sciatica
Back pain and be the cause of many factors; a recent injury, an old injury, posture, menstruation and also constipation. An osteopath can help you releive the restrictions causing your back pain and help you gain mobility so that your body can recover quicker. Children often feel back pain due to growth and misalignment of their hips, this can be helped proactively so that their pain is reduced and they continue to develop without bringing these issues into their adult years.
During labour and delivery a baby can experience a number of different traumas. The natural childbirth process, albiet beautiful, is a very intense process for the infant. That, including their posture inutero, can influence the structure of their cranium and also cause cervical rotation preference to one side. Occasionally this can cause flattening of the head (plagiocephaly) in some infants. An evaluation by an osteopath trained in pediatrics is recommended shortly after birth and as the parents and family doctor notice any difficulty with feeding, colic, preference for one side or plagiocephaly.
As children enter into their early childhood years the help of an osteopath can also be beneficial in addressing issues with mobility and gait, constipation, headaches and in the prevention of reoccurring ear infections (not treatment for acute infections). Prevention is attempted by optimizing drainage and circulation. Semi-annual visits to an osteopath from ages 1 to 14 are recommended.
Feeding and latching issues
General evaluation after birth
An osteopath can help with painful menstrual cramps and headaches due to menstruation. The positioning of the organs can be influenced by internal and external stresses, one of which is posture and lack of mobility. Thoracic cage restriction can be a contributor to symptoms of reflux. Constipation without known cause can also be helped by improving mobility of the pelvis.
Reflux and GERD
Concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. It causes a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms including headache, dizziness, nausea, lack of coordination, brain fog, visual problems, and irritability. There is a lot of new research about concussions being produced, which is why it is important to stay abreast of the protocols.
The brain has a remarkable ability to heal; an osteopath with training in concussions can assist with eliminating restrictions in the neck and base of the skull to increase circulation and help the brain recover.
Anxiety and Sleep disorders
A person with anxiety may also experience fatigue, muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping; this can induce a generalized inflammatory state within the body and set the stage for diminished wellbeing. It has been proven that sleep disruption is associated with increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and inflammatory responses. In otherwise healthy adults, short-term consequences of sleep disruption can include increased stress responsivity. Simply put, proper sleep is important for the regulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is comprised of the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest, digest, and repair) nervous systems. Manual osteopathic techniques that liberate the thoracic cage, diaphragm and respiratory assist muscles provide relaxation and amelioration of breathing as well as promote mobility and circulation so that your breathing, sleep and pain may be reduced. For more information please read the blog article “Can breathing easier help you sleep better and reduce your pain”.
Through the release of tissues in the throat and under the tongue, as well as assessing neck and jaw structure, an osteopath can help with sleep apnea and snoring, helping you get a better nights' sleep.
A protocol for the treatment of fibromyalgia has not yet been established by any therapeutic body as research is still ongoing for the understanding and treatment of patients suffering from this chronic illness. In my practice I have taken a multiple therapy approach when helping those with symptoms of fibromyalgia. They include trigger point therapy for the release of fascia, muscle energy techniques for the strengthening and elongation of muscles and fascia as well as craniosacral therapy for regulation and relaxation. This is based on the most recent research that has shown that therapy targeting the fascia – connective tissue beneath the skin may help reduce pain in fibromyalgia. Each persons’ fascial restrictions are different and no protocol is the same but a research study done in 2019 has shown “that muscle energy technique applied to cervical accessory respiratory muscles in patients with fibromyalgia who had complaints in the neck and back region positively increased respiratory muscle strength and endurance, cervical flexibility, and decrease pain intensity, fatigue and disability” (1). Another study in 2011 showed that there was a significantly higher improvement with regards to anxiety, pain, sleep quality and depression in the intervention versus placebo group after treatment with craniosacral therapy after a treatment period of 25 weeks (2). Additional studies need to be done to determine exact protocols and combinations of therapies. I aim to reduce symptoms determined based on the complaints of the individual and the fascia restrictions we find. If you would like to know more about how this could help you please reach out to me and we can discuss how this may be beneficial to reduce your symptoms.