What is an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner?
An Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is a health professional who has earned a Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice (D.O.M.P.) from the Canadian College of Osteopathy in Toronto, and who is a current member of the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO). The program at the Canadian College of Osteopathy consists of five years of rigorous part-time study followed by a research thesis, and provides the highest level of osteopathic training in Canada.
Osteopathic manual practitioners in Canada are not doctors. They do not make a medical diagnosis of your condition or prescribe treatments or medication. These alternative healthcare practitioners use palpation (touch) as their primary diagnostic tool. Using their knowledge of anatomy and physiology, osteopathic manual practitioners treat areas where mobility, position, or vitality of the tissues is found to be in dysfunction.
Osteopathy is a system of manual therapy that is particularly concerned with the movement of the human body, and with the healthy interactions between tissues. As such, the practice of osteopathy depends on detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, paired with a highly developed sense of palpation (touch). The underlying principle of osteopathic treatment is that restriction of movement will compromise the flow of fluids such as blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid. Such obstructions leave the body vulnerable to degenerative processes and disease, and must be corrected if the tissues are to return to a state of health.
The most important difference between osteopathy and other manipulative therapies is the unique philosophy that osteopathy is based upon. Traditional osteopathy adheres to four fundamental principles:
1. Structure governs function. If there is a pathological change to the structure of the human body, it will inevitably change the function of the surrounding tissues. Osteopathic treatment involves gentle manipulation to encourage structures towards normal, in an effort to restore proper function. Techniques are performed on the bones, joints, soft tissues, and internal organs. Treatment of the cranium is also part of the osteopathic scope of practice.
2. The body has the ability to self-regulate. Each person's physiology depends on self-healing mechanisms and is constantly working towards homeostasis. Dysfunction anywhere in the body presents an obstacle, making it more difficult to maintain this delicate balance. The role of an osteopathic practitioner is to help remove as many blockages as possible, then to step aside and allow the person's self-regulation mechanisms to complete the process.
3. The rule of the artery is absolute. Effective circulation is required for healing, immunity, nutrition, and detoxification, which are essential for tissue health. The osteopathic practitioner uses manual techniques to reduce tensions or biomechanical restrictions that are impeding circulation.
4. The body is a functional unit. Although each tissue in the body has a special function, they must work as a team; a change in one system will have a ripple effect, resulting in compensations throughout the person’s physiology. An osteopathic practitioner examines the entire person, always considering how dysfunction in a particular area is interacting with other systems, and what impact it has on the overall health of the person.
With these principles in mind, osteopathic practitioners use gentle manipulation to restore balance to areas of dysfunction. Using the patient’s health history as a guide, the osteopathic practitioner uses palpation to evaluate the position, mobility, and vitality of the tissues. Once the most affected areas of the body are identified and ranked in order of importance, a plan for therapy is outlined and osteopathic treatment can begin. Learn more about Osteopathy