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Osteopathy

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“Osteopathy walks hand in hand with nothing but Nature’s laws, and for this reason alone it marks the most significant progress in the history of scientific research.”
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, founding physician of osteopathic medicine, in his Autobiography of A.T. Still

Osteopathy is the practice of medicine based on the essential relationship in all living things between structure and function, i.e., between anatomy and physiology, or between physics and chemistry. Osteopathic physicians use our comprehensive, precise knowledge of anatomy and physiology to promote health and healing in our patients. We work gently with our hands to help your body restore its own best function based on optimal structure.

Our medical training as osteopathic physicians gives us a DO degree (Doctor of Osteopathy). We learn all the same material as our MD colleagues (DOs and MDs are the two fully-licensed medical physicians in the US). Our DO training differs by also offering unique, in-depth work with anatomy in the context of treating our patients as whole people, not just as catalogs of symptoms. We learn to work with our hands using gentle, precise and medically astute approaches to help your body heal. As physicians, the current medical pharmacopeia, nutritional science, and full medical training are also at our disposal. Your individual treatment may therefore include a range of approaches, but will always be founded on our gentle hands-on work.

Osteopathic medicine is an historic American tradition. Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, a brilliant U.S. physician, was the founder of osteopathic medicine. He began osteopathic practice in 1874 and started the first school of osteopathic medicine here in the U.S. His inspired medical practice led to the development of more than 30 modern U.S. osteopathic medical schools.

The practice of osteopathic medicine has a unique relationship with the natural world. Dr. Andrew Taylor Still made the bold statement that: “Osteopathy walks hand in hand with nothing but Nature’s laws, and for this reason alone it marks the most significant progress in the history of scientific research.”

Dr. Still was inspired by his deep study of nature, especially of human anatomy and its relationship to physiology. From this work, Dr. Still elucidated osteopathy. Osteopathy is an incredibly potent yet benign approach to the practice of medicine.

Why is osteopathy so powerful yet benign? Because it studies and applies how nature heals. The relationship of structure and function is nature’s first principle of health and healing. Any biological system, from forest to flea, is not healthy if its structure has gone awry: from macroscopic bones and muscles to microscopic genes and molecules. A vessel, a nerve, a joint, even a brain, cannot work well if its structure is compromised. Nature shows us this through ecology.

Let’s consider a simplified example of the ecology of a lake. Many lakes depend on the inward flow of a stream at one end and free outward flow at the other end. The inward flowing stream brings fresh water, oxygen and nutrients from upstream, creates a healthy current, and helps to maintain the lake’s level. The outward flowing stream carries away stale water and wastes, and also helps to keep the lake level stable. This healthy flow and exchange of fluids in the lake supports a diversity of life from microscopic organisms and plants to fish, birds and mammals.

What happens if either stream is blocked? Nutrient and fresh water supply are diminished, waste products build up, oxygen levels are depleted, microbes, plants, birds, fish, and mammals begin to sicken and die until the entire system is damaged.

Nature shows us that the same structure-function relationship is at work in all of us. If, for example, our circulation to an organ, a nerve, a bone, or even one group of cells is compromised, the health of that organ, nerve, bone, or group of cells is also compromised. Why? Because needed nutrients cannot reach them and waste products cannot be removed. A chronic muscle spasm, a broken bone, an immobile rib that limits full breathing, all can lead to problems with gradually increasing consequences throughout the body if not healed and repaired.

Nature is a series of infinitely kaleidoscoping ecosystems that depends on the primary relationship of structure and function – from single molecule to cell to organ to organism to ecosystem and ultimately the entire planet. The human body is one of nature’s most beautiful and intricate manifestations whose health and healing depends on that primary relationship. Osteopathic physicians are unique in practicing medicine based on this fundamental example from nature.

Dr. Andrew M. Goldman and Dr. Kim E. Tripp, at Osteopathic Healthcare, have dedicated their practice of osteopathic medicine to honor, study, and practice these lessons from nature – in the spirit of the founder of osteopathic medicine, Dr. A.T. Still. We invite you to call us in our Sharon, CT office at 860-364-5990, or our Great Barrington, MA office at 413-528-3334 to learn more about how traditional osteopathy can help you.