A wide variety of diagnostic and treatment techniques are covered by the term osteopathy or osteopathic medicine. The term, which is rather unfortunate with regard to the meaning of the word, was coined about 100 years ago in America. At present in the USA about ¼ of all licensed doctors are not medical doctors (“MD”), comparable to doctors in our system, but doctors of osteopathy (“DO”). Both types of doctor are fully recognised there in the insurance system and in the university system, and have their own faculties and university hospitals.
In international linguistic usage, osteopathy is made up of the following treatment techniques: so-called classic chirotherapy with medical manipulations, mobilisations of physiotherapeutic manual therapy, myofascial release techniques, muscle energy techniques, visceral osteopathy (techniques of release in the chest and abdominal cavities), positioning techniques, so-called functional techniques and craniosacral therapy.
The variety of these techniques provides various ways of bringing an out-of-equilibrium musculoskeletal system and its control closer to normality. Here it will have to suffice to point out that the possibilities of classic manual medicine of the German type are effectively increased and supplemented by the other techniques mentioned and in some cases the manipulations can be replaced.
The osteopathic techniques are concerned above all with the structures outside the joints that cannot be reached so well by classic manual medicine.
If medical manipulation concentrates more on a biomechanical reflex occurrence to restore the mobility of a single joint, the osteopathic techniques act more on the soft tissues (muscles, fasciae, ligaments, tendinous structures, nerves, mobility of organs, etc.).
The diagnostic and treatment techniques of osteopathic medicine are on the one hand particularly gentle, but on the other hand they are especially time-consuming.