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What is Osteopathy and How is it Used in Treatments?

Posted on 8 February 2016
What is Osteopathy and How is it Used in Treatments?

Manual Osteopathy is a non-invasive patient centered manual therapy based on 4 main principles:

  1. The body is an integrated functional unit with all its parts working together
  2. Structure & function are reciprocally inter-related - any abnormality of structure misalignment, restricted mobility, etc. - may create dysfunction either locally or elsewhere in the body.
  3. The body has natural auto-regulation, defense and healing mechanisms. Treatment facilitates the process by removing obstacles.
  4. Unrestricted flow of body fluids ( blood, lymph, cerebrospinal ) and energy is essential for health.

Osteopathic assessment and osteopathic treatmenst focus on body structure - joints, muscles, connective tissue, internal organs, etc. Osteopathic treatments aim to restore balance, mobility and proper alignment of the body, normalize its function as a whole and improve the circulation and energy flow. Osteopathic treatments deliver quick, effective relief from pain, and help to improve overall health and prevents future recurrence of problems.

Manual Osteopathy is highly regarded as a treatment for complex and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, sports injuries and post accident rehabilitation. Osteopathy is also commonly used to effectively addresses some systemic and neurological conditions like fibromylagia /CFS, vertigo and tinnitus, headaches, TMJ pain, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain and many others.

Osteopathic Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick sheath of tissue that runs from the base of the heel to the toes. Plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber, supports the arches of the foot and plays an important part in mechanics of walking or running. When strained, it becomes inflamed and creates pain. Plantar fasciitis is a common injury that is characterized by:

  • Pain on the bottom of the heel that may radiate to the side of the heel
  • Pain is typically worst when getting up on your feet in the morning or after sitting for a while
  • Foot pain is relieved by taking pressure off the foot or walking for a while
  • After spending the day on their feet, some people experience increased foot pain towards the end of the day

The exact causes of plantar fasciitis are poorly understood. Some of the contributing factors in developing plantar fasciitis are:

  • Excessive or unaccustomed exercise or physical activity
  • Restricted mobility in the joints of the foot or ankle
  • Prolonged standing and inappropriate footwear
  • Muscle imbalance and/or excessive tightness in lower leg/calf
  • Excessive body weight

What is Fascia?

Fascia is a large network of membranes and connective tissue enveloping and linking muscles, bones and internal organs throughout the entire body. Essentially, fascia is a one continuous "fabric" that holds the body together and gives it a shape. It is organized in so called fascial or myofascial chains (since they include muscles) with its different parts given specific names depending on the location. Hence, plantar fascia is a part of posterior myofascial chain since it's located on the plantar surface of the foot.

How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?

Common treatments for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Rest and ice
  • Anti inflammatories if required
  • Exercises including stretches, tennis ball under the foot, etc
  • Taping and/or shoe insole for support

Treatments aim to reduce discomfort pain but if the problem persists, a more integrated approach may be required. The key to treatment of plantar fasciitis is to remove the strain on the plantar fascia. Following the osteopathic principle of treating the body as a functional unit, an osteopathic treatment aims to address the structural alignment and biomechanics of the whole body with emphasis on the myofascial chains normalization.

For example, if the problem is with the mobliity of the foot and ankle joints, it would need to be restored. If, however, the underlying cause is somewhere "up the chain", be it muscle imbalance in the lower leg, restricted movement of the hip or misaligned pelvis, they must be normalized as well. Proper movement patterns and muscle coordination must also be restored using appropriate exercises, It will ultimately ease the tension on the plantar fascia and allow for the healing to take place.

Plantar fasciitis is usually a multifaceted problem and requires an integrated approach that includes an assessment by a health care practitioner such as an osteopathic practitioner, physiotherapist or chiropractor. It also warrants a visit to our podiatrist to assess if custom orthotics could help your recovery and return to pain-free activity and sport! If you're suffering from plantar fasciitis, contact SEMI. Our team of expert physicians, chiropractors and podiatrists will ensure you receive the treatment you need.

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