2004-03-19 / Community

St. John’s Hospital Doc Says ‘Osteopathy Comes of Age’

by Mary A. Cigliano, DO
St. John’s Hospital Doc Says ‘Osteopathy Comes of Age’ by Mary A. Cigliano, DO

Mary A. Cigliano, DO, is a Family Practice Board Certified physician who trained in osteopathic manipulative tech niques under the well-known physi cians Viola Frymann, DO, and Anthony Capobianco, DO.

The first school of osteopathic medicine opened its doors in 1892, in Kirks ville, Missouri. Andrew Taylor Still, MD, the founder of osteopathy, had be come dissatisfied with traditional medicine. After years of experimentation, he developed "drugless medicine," based on the proper alignment of the musculoskeletal system which he call ed osteopathic manipulative medicine.

What is osteopathy? Literally osteo means bone and pathos means disease. Osteopathy is based on the philosophy that the human body has the capacity to heal itself. An osteopathic physician facilitates this process by removing impediments or obstructions to the body’s own healing forces thr ough "hands on" manipulative techniques. Manipulative medicine techniques not only treat the musculoskeletal system but also bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Removal of these obstructions allows the body to begin its own healing. The adage of our founder, A.T. Still, MD, "Find it, fix it, leave it alone," sums up one of the most important concepts in osteopathic medicine, to allow the body to heal itself. Osteopathy is not alternative medicine. Osteopathic physi cians complete formal medical sch ool education and post graduate train ing and are fully licensed and board certified. In addition to traditional medical training, osteopaths receive training in "hands on" manipulative medicine techniques.

Now, you may be asking what diseases can an osteopathic physician treat? You would be amazed at the variety of illnesses treatable through "hands on" manipulative techniques. Most physicians, upon initial interview, focus on the disease process. For example, whether the disease process manifests itself as headache, backache, pneumonia or sinusitis, a "quick fix" solution is often sought. Treatment may consist of Tylenol for the headache, pain medication for the backache, antibiotics for pneumonia or antihistamines for the sinusitis. Osteopaths focus on the whole person, via a more holistic approach with osteopathic manipulation often used as an adjunct treatment. Medications may be prescribed, but osteopathic manipulative techniques would also be employed.

For treatment of a headache, cranial sacral techniques may be used.A0 Cranial osteopathy began in 1939, when William Garner Sutherland, an osteopathic physician, observed a small but palpable motion between the bones of the skill, the sutures of the head, and the sacrum (tailbone). The movement is part of a rhythmic motion of the many fluids of the body, especially the cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the central nervous system through which all systems empty. This movement is vital in the expression of health, including the maximum function of the body’s own healing system.

Any trauma to the head or body can change the flow of fluids in the body which can significantly alter a person’s health and day-to-day functioning. Trauma can also lead to headaches, breathing difficulties, digestive problems, menstrual irregularities, chronic ear infections, joint disorders, and even colic.

Cranial osteopathic treatment in volves hands on manipulation to gently free areas of the body, which have restriction in motion. Treatment often includes cradling the head or the sacrum to free up movement of re stricted bones and tissues to allow increased flow of fluids. This treatment can be used anywhere in the body. Through this approach many common complaints can be addressed including low back problems, TMJ dysfunction, headaches, and menstrual cramps. In addition, one can experience an ongoing sense of well-being and health.

Some massage therapists and physical therapists have learned simplified forms of "cranial sacral therapy." Only osteopathic physicians or medical doctors encompass the education to fully treat and diagnose patients with every available modality. To be assured you receive the best possible care, select a physician who has the necessary training to understand the human body’s function and dysfunction.

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