As long as the body has the ability to compensate for the many restrictions in the musculoskeletal system, little or occasional discomfort will be felt. However if left untreated, chronic compensation patterns will often result in more serious injuries and inflammation of the musculoskeletal system. In the spine, the most common sites affected by acute dysfunctions and injuries are the neck and low back area. Similarly bigger joints such as hips and knees can get inflamed from the added strain resulting from compensation patterns. The more chronic patterns will often result in the early wear and tear and degeneration of the joint.
The role of the osteopath is not only to diagnose and treat the local dysfunction of the structure causing pain, but to investigate for any compensation chains in the musculoskeletal system resulting from previous traumas and injuries. Once the cause of the dysfunction and compensation is treated and normal biomechanics restored, the body is given the ability to heal itself.
During a structural osteopathic treatment, a wide range of direct techniques such as spinal adjustments, joint articulation and deep soft tissue massages may be utilized by the osteopath in order to release tensions in the musculoskeletal system and restore the body’s biomechanics. Similarly other more gentle techniques, commonly described as indirect techniques, will be used to treat structures for which the practitioner feels are more appropriate, such as with patients suffering with osteoporosis and other chronic conditions. The osteopath will never base his treatment approach on his preferences but will take into account the patient’s medical history and assess what approach the body needs.