Osteopathy is a non–pharmacological, “hands on” approach that encourages the body to heal itself by using the body’s intrinsic forces and corrective mechanisms to achieve homeostasis.
This unique form of manual therapy where the focus is on restoring abnormal and dysfunctional tissues and rhythms in the body back to their normal and healthy functions. A regimen of treatments commonly helps restore an animal’s normal function more quickly and permanently then by stretching and strengthening exercises alone.
Another major principle of osteopathy is FORM directs FUNCTION and FUNCTION directs FORM. The architecture (FORM) of the body is not an accident; the body is constructed the way it is because the structure fulfills a specific FUNCTION. When the normal form is altered, not “at ease”, by acute or chronic stresses on the body, the body’s function (health) will diminish over time, temporarily or permanently.
The comprehensive principle from osteopathy has three major Holistic Networks for optimal functioning:
- CIRCULATORY network: blood, lymphatic, and cerebrospinal fluids
- NEURAL network: Central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems.
- CONNECTIVE TISSUE (FASCIA) network: Extracellular Matrix (collagen/elastin) + gluey ground substance (proteoglycans)
Andrew Still, MD, who founded osteopathy in 1874, addressed disease in all three networks because he found that this was essential for successful treatment outcomes. He called this fundamental principle The Rule of the Artery. Our body doesn’t function properly if blood and lymph are not flowing freely and undisturbed. When blood flow is restricted, our tissue health diminishes. Due to lack of lack of oxygen, ischemia, and/or nutrients our physiological functions are compromised. Our tissues will contract, twist and compress. Dysfunctions begin to develop, and the body starts to slowly decompensate and break down over time.
The Rule of the Artery states that the body will protect different tissues in a HIERARCHY of IMPORTANCE in order to survive:
- CARDIOVASCULAR and LYMPHATIC, CIRCULATORY SYSTEMS, and FASCIA
- NERVOUS SYSTEM
- ORGANS (VISCERA)
- ENDOCRINE SYSTEM
- MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM