What is Osteopathy?

osteopathy points for pain relief

Manual Osteopathy is a comprehensive therapeutic approach that emphasizes a holistic and non-invasive approach to healing. This hands-on therapy primarily targets the musculoskeletal system, including muscles, fascia, ligaments, and joints, as well as the organs and central nervous system. Unlike other therapies that solely address the symptoms, Manual Osteopaths aim to identify and treat the underlying cause of pain. By focusing on the joints, muscles, and spine, the end goal is to restore harmony to the body’s nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems. Additionally, Manual Osteopaths seek to restore balance to the musculoskeletal, cranial, cardiovascular, visceral, and neurological systems of the body.

What does Osteopathy treat?

  • Back pain
  • Sciatica and disc problems
  • Head, neck and shoulder pain
  • Frozen shoulder, rotator cuff problems
  • Pain in joints and limbs
  • Tennis and golfer’s elbow
  • Neuralgia and sinus pain
  • Arthritis and rheumatism
  • Nerve irritation
  • TMJ
  • Spondylosis and tension pain
  • Stress related conditions
  • Digestive and breathing problems
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sports injuries
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Pregnancy and associated problems

Treatment Methods:

Manual Osteopath practitioners use Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) to treat patients with asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, sinus disorders, and migraines. OMT utilizes a multiplicity of approaches like palpation and manipulation of muscles, bones, and joints; as well as soft tissue stretching – mobilization of joints; alongside intense tactile pressure may prove useful in relieving tension within the physique. Manual Osteopath practitioners use two main types of treatment techniques: direct and indirect. The first, direct techniques include massage, joint manipulation, joint articulation, and stretching. With indirect techniques, they work with patients to help them learn to self-heal. This type of treatment is often used on children, the elderly, and for patients with chronic pain.

Soft Tissue Manipulation- A widely used technique by practitioners in various ways. Its primary purpose is to assess the condition of tissues and facilitate the smooth flow of bodily fluids, including blood and lymphatic fluid. This promotes a reduction in harmful fluid retention and enhances the effectiveness of the body’s immune system. Fascia, a tissue present throughout the body, serves as a connection between all bodily structures at both superficial and deep levels. Practitioners assess the fascia to identify areas of restriction and then utilize soft tissue manipulation to ensure proper balance in terms of length and tension. Throughout the treatment, manual osteopaths continuously monitor the state of the body’s tissues. If one technique proves ineffective in addressing a restriction, they employ alternative approaches. Above all, manual osteopaths prioritize restoring health without excessive treatment.

Manual Osteopathic Articular Technique- Osteopaths use this technique to relax muscles near a joint, ease nerve irritations around a joint, make joints more flexible, and reduce pain. The articular technique involves gently moving two joint surfaces. Before doing this, Osteopaths prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area. They also position the patient in a way that requires less energy and force to perform the technique. Many patients find this technique less intense than joint manipulations.

Cranial Osteopathy- This is a very gentle technique, as it requires the most experience to use effectively. To learn this technique, Manual Osteopaths undergo intensive training. Through this training, their hands become sensitive to the cranial mobility and develop great precision in utilizing cranial techniques. They use this gentle technique to assess and treat the mobility of the skull and its contents. They may also use it to assess and treat the spine, the sacrum, and 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. Manual Osteopaths do this by treating the body’s inherent biorhythm. They are able to feel this rhythm in the patient’s head, spinal cord, and in the sacrum and the rest of the body. They use the biorhythm to assess the patient’s condition, and they may modify it during treatment.

Visceral Manipulation- Manual Osteopaths use visceral manipulation to treat organs and viscera of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, bladder and uterus. Patients may feel pain in one or more of these organs, or the viscera may be less pliable than it should be. Manual osteopaths gently move the structures themselves and the fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds them to restore full movement. Most patients treated with visceral manipulation feel only gentle pressure of the Manual Osteopath’s hand, but the corrections are powerful enough to improve the mobility of an organ, improve blood flow, and help the organ function more effectively.

Positional Release Technique- Also known as PRT, is a gentle, indirect technique of moving the body or body part away from the painful point or area of restriction and towards the position of greatest comfort or ease. The position of ease is where the point should no longer be tender. Position is held for 60-90 seconds. Often when the tissue is held in a position of ease, circulation improves (temporarily) in the surrounding tissues and muscle tone is decreased. It can positively affect change in soft tissues as well as joints. In this time, the patient can feel vibration, pulsation, heat, and pain will lessen or go away. There will be a sense of lengthening and relaxation in the tissues. The position of ease should decrease the pain by at least 70% once the release is felt.

The above (and many other) Manual Osteopathic techniques and approaches are used in a coordinated and rational fashion to slowly adjust the patient’s anatomy and physiology towards normal, so that the patient’s body can heal itself.

Philosophy of Osteopathic Treatment

The philosophy of osteopathic treatment is explained in a book written by Dr. Still called Philosophy of Osteopathy. This book from the end of the 1800s explains why techniques are applied and the benefits of osteopathic treatments. The philosophy has three fundamental theories.

What are the advantages of Osteopathy?

  • Removes the underlying cause of pain
  • Relieves chronic pain through non-invasive treatment
  • Helps the body to adapt to hormonal and structural changes during pregnancy
  • Encourages the body to heal itself
  • Reduces pain and stiffness in joints
  • Reduces muscle spasms
  • Increases spinal and muscle flexibility
  • Improves blood flow to the muscles and tissues
  • Enhances immune system function
  • Improves digestive tract
  • Enhances athletic performance
  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Increases range of motion
  • Increases energy
  • Treats spinal problems resulting from poor posture or spinal disc injuries
  • Reduces tension in the body
  • Relieves tension headaches and migraine headaches
  • Reduces visible scarring and adhesion on the skin
  • Treats trauma from accidents, sports injuries and motor vehicle injuries
  • Increases circulation and healthy heart rate
  • Reduces blood pressure and associated diseases

What to expect during an Osteopath appointment:

A consultation with an osteopath is typically conducted before any active treatment or management commences. During this session, the Manual Osteopath will address the patient’s health concerns attentively and take notes; subsequently undertaking a comprehensive physical examination of postural alignment along with range-of-motion tests assessing joint restrictions. Palpation is frequently utilized to assess muscular mobility and motility as well as visceral tone – all while assiduously monitoring their response throughout hands-on treatment; always keenly observing progression into each phase in between assessments. Generally patients leave after their sessions feeling more relieved yet may experience aches/sores up to 48 hours following treatment.

Please feel free to bring any and all test results, scans, X-rays, MRIs or diagnosis to the consultation or treatment. Patients should wear loose fitting clothing that is non-restricting, to simplify ease of movement during the session.

Manual Osteopathy is tailored to meet the requirements of the individual patient and techniques are selected to meet the patient’s needs. It relieves pain, improves mobility and to restore health and vitality. Treatment focuses on getting to the root of the problem, not just addressing and or suppressing the symptoms.

  1. The musculoskeletal system is a element in maintaining good health
  2. The body has a natural ability of self heal and self regulate
  3. The parts of the body make up a unified whole

The musculoskeletal system makes up 2/3 of the body’s mass that includes bones, muscles, and cartilage and impacts the rest of the body and its condition. Preventative treatment method including fitness and good nutrition promotes healthy bodily functions that are able to combat diseases and heal injury rather than relying on medications alone. The last fundamental theory promotes whole body mobilization to fight diseases and heal injuries.

History of Osteopathic Medicine

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still founded the practice of osteopathic medicine in 1874. Dr. Still was an American physician and surgeon during the Civil War. He sought further understanding of the medical profession and through research and experience he decided there was a better way to treat patients than the conventional treatments, following the deaths of three of his children to spinal meningitis. Dr. Still believed that illness was related to problems associated with the musculoskeletal system and manipulation could treat the problems. In addition, Dr. Still advocated healthy living and abstinence from alcohol. His treatment regime forbade patients from taking any type of medication.

Dr. Still opened the American School of Osteopathy, the first osteopathic school at Kirksville, Missouri in 1892. Students at the school formed the organization now known as the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) in 1897. The organization implemented standards for osteopathic medicine education. The AOA was accredited by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1952 and received accreditation from the Council for Higher Education in 1967. Standards for curriculum and length of study were formed by the Associated Colleges of Osteopathy in 1898.

Today, people in Canada benefit from both European-trained osteopaths (non-physician manual practitioners) and practitioners trained in Canada.  Both provide individual benefit of skills and knowledge of to develop a distinctly Canadian system of osteopathic care. Many of the training programs in Canada emphasize research delivering high standards of osteopathic education, training, and treatment benefiting practitioners and patients.


Is Osteopathy care covered by OHIP?

Manual Osteopathic treatments are not covered under Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Many extended health care plans cover Manual Osteopathic treatments, please check with your provider to see if you’re covered.

How much does an Osteopath treatment session cost?

Please see our service fees for the most up-to-date and detailed breakdown of our fees & rates.

Do I need a referral to see a Manual Osteopath?

No, Osteopathy treatments do not require a referral from a family physician. However, some third-party insurance carriers may require a referral from a family physician for reimbursement purposes.

Is Osteopathy painful?

Manual osteopathy treatments are generally pain-free, with some exceptions due to inflammation within the joints and muscles. Occasionally, there may be some temporary discomfort during or after a treatment. However, by following the assigned treatment plan, you will feel more relaxed and eventually be able to move pain-free! Visceral Manipulations and Cranio-Sacral Therapy are completely free of pain.

Do I need to disrobe or take off my clothes for my treatment?

No, all Manual Osteopathic procedures are completed with the patient clothed. If you do need to undress, your Manual Osteopath will consult you first. Your Manual Osteopath will leave the room to give you privacy, they’ll knock on the door to be sure you are ready before re-entering. Manual Osteopaths will only uncover the part of the body they are working on to ensure your modesty is respected. Periodically, you will be asked if the pressure is okay – please be sure to communicate with your Manual Osteopath about the pressure you prefer.

What is the “cracking” noise I hear during a Manual Osteopathic adjustment?

Manual Osteopaths use various techniques to create a difference in pressure within the synovial joint. This causes gases to be released, which produces an audible sound. The bones themselves are not actually breaking or cracking; it’s just like when you “crack” your knuckles!

Is Manual Osteopathic treatment safe?

Manual osteopaths use non-invasive techniques to restore motion to all components of the human body, treating dysfunction in spinal or extremity joints as well as muscles, nerves and surrounding soft tissues. They also promote proper flow of fluids like blood, lymph and cerebrospinal fluid.

How long will I need Manual Osteopathic care?

The duration of Manual Osteopathic care varies with respect to your symptom(s), age, prior health history, and the severity of your issue. No two patients are alike, as physical, mental and emotional response to treatments differs between individuals. In addition, a Manual Osteopath may recommend acute, preventative, and/or maintenance care, thus making a certain number of visits necessary. A common treatment plan involves roughly 5 treatments of one hour for full recovery.

Top 3 Manual Osteopaths in Newmarket

We’ve had the honour of being recognized as the Top 3 Manual Osteopaths in Newmarket by Three Best Rated for the 4th year in a row, and our Osteopathy practice has won us the “Best Business of 2022” award.

logo of 2024 award for top manual osteopath in newmarket
Top 3 Manual Osteopath in Newmarket

Award winning Osteopathy clinic in East Gwillimbury

Our clinic is located in the Holland Landing community of East Gwillimbury, just north of Newmarket. We’re the only clinic in the East Gwillimbury area that is part of the Osteopathy Chronic Pain Clinics of Canada (OCPCC). If you have any questions about Osteopathy or if you’d like to make an appointment, please contact us at (905)251-0162 today.

Ultimate Health Clinic is a proud member of Osteopathy Chronic Pain Clinics of Canada

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