It’s not the role of any health professional to try to define what another health care professional is, and what they do. If you want a definition, it would be best to ask people in those professions. What we can do is tell you about the defining characteristics of Osteopathy, which are its underlying philosophy and its broad range of techniques.
While ’Biomechanics’ has become one of the most rapidly developing areas of medicine in recent years, osteopathy was one of the first professions to incorporate biomechanical analysis of how injuries occur and what the secondary effects are likely to be. To take a simple example, if you go to an osteopath with a knee injury, the Osteopath will do much more than just examine and treat your knee. They will want to know exactly how the injury occurred in order to assess not just which tissues in the knee are injured, but also whether there may be any involvement of other areas with a mechanical relationship to the knee, such as the foot, hip, lower back and pelvis, and the associated soft tissues.
They will then want to analyse any possible secondary effects. For instance, you may be ‘avoiding’ the bad knee and putting more weight on the other side. Over a period of time, this may lead to problems developing in the lower back or the ‘good’ knee. The Osteopath will then use this information to prescribe a treatment plan that addresses not just the knee, but all of the other areas of the body and associated tissues that may be involved – including the blood supply to the affected areas, the lymphatic drainage, the nerve supply etc., in order to include all those factors which will affect the success of healing.
It is this whole body, multi-system approach that has been the basis of Osteopathy’ssuccess over the last century.