Let’s Hear it for Osteopathy

I have been hard on Naturopathy and Chiropracty because they cross my science line. Not so with Osteopathy, which has become mainstream and committed to scientific medicine and medical care.

Osteopathy is evidence based medicine with some osteopathic therapies (mostly manipulation) included.

Anyone with sense can see the advantages of manipulative therapy properly applied. It’s like sophisticated massage/physical therapy.

Many months ago I developed some back problems from some work I had to do and benefited from some manipulative osteo therapies from a colleague.

I know, that’s an anecdote–so???? Osteopaths started in a place where they were sorta close to chiropracters, who have no scientific theories of any substance or repute.

Osteopathic medical schools are underfunded and on a shoestring, so also with their clinical and post graduate training programs, but I find that they work hard to close the gap on quality medicine and are serious contributors to good medical care. No substitute for hard work and virtue.



16 responses to “Let’s Hear it for Osteopathy

  1. While there’s lots of overlap between the training and focus of MDs and DOs, there’s more of a “what’s causing this problem” attitude by DOs.
    Hence, as a general statement (with lots and lots of exceptions), if you show up at both a DO and an MD with a sore throat you’ll get the same exam and treatment. Show up a week later with a continuing case or a relapse, and the DO is more likely to start wondering about what’s going on and looking for causes…, while the MD will wait until the third visit.

    • I would say osteopaths are conscious of doing it right by their best stars and judgment–may be an effort to prove up, or it may just be an effort to be helpful and right.

      I would say osteopaths have a healthy sense of commitment to the welfare of the patient. Good physicians. Good people.

      I have trained a bunch of DOs and found them to be full of effort and virtue, with rare exceptions. Good people with high goals and standards. Not slouches because being a slouch in emergency medicine will get you singled out. We do not suffer fools or slouches. Not enough room for it.

  2. >Anyone with sense can see the advantages of manipulative therapy properly applied. It’s like sophisticated massage/physical therapy.

    I’m a Chiropractor. CMT can be very helpful for the right people. As I tell my patients every day, you need joint movement (and muscle stretch) to heal. Back and joint pain is a serious, chronic problem for many people. No approach works all the time. There is a reason two Consumers Reports survey gave Chiro the highest “most helpful” votes in two different surveys. I receive medical referrals almost every week. Saying that, Chiro has it’s defects like all professions (but we don’t aren’t even in the same realm as “climate science” which is quackery at it most refined).
    Great job on the blog!

    • good points. thanks

    • There seems to be some strange prejudice against chiropractors here. They’re often named in the same sentence as homeopaths and naturopaths. I’ve only been to one chiropractor but he was the opposite of quackery at every turn. More so than the string of MDs that failed to cure or even properly diagnose my wife’s condition. The idea that chronic misalignment or acute injury can cause muscle strength imbalances that pull on joints and cause pain seems scientific to the point of common sense to me, especially when the evidence is clearly visible on X-ray.
      It’s certainly more evidence-based than a five-minute interview leading to prescription of neuro-chemical altering drugs.

      • You got that right.

        Chiropractors believe in a non science concept of things, very much like the Chinese medicine practitioners, the naturopathy people, acupuncturiss. What energy, whether it’s called Qi or Chi or Ying and Yang. There are no magic energy forces in a world of scientific medicine.

        Your disapproval of pill pushing is a good one, except when it asserts pills don’t do any good. Psych should not be put in the same category as internal medicine is terms of effectiveness–psych sometimes is no better than the magical medical “therapies.” It surely isn’t evidence based or built on a good understanding of the nature of the system being treated. Consider that Freud, a foundational icon in psych has been shown to be a charlatan in so many ways. Read the Commentaries of Paul McHugh, chair of psych at Johns Hopkins and debunker of psych nonsense.

        However, you got diabetes, you got cancer, you got asthma, you got heart disease, stay away from magical treaters unless they slip in some proven therapies.

        Palmer, the inventor of the Chiropractic method was a grocer who started it all and he thought there was a magical force. The misalignment of vertebrae was interfering with the force–not likely. However mechanical musculo skeletal problems do respond to physical therapy and manipulation–no doubt. That’s why chiros and masseuses can make people better. But it isn’t about restoring some magical energy force.

        Same is true of acupuncture, as I said before, it may have a placebo effect, a gating effect or a neurohumeral effect, releasing good humors, but it doesn’t enable magic energy emissions.

        Now the chiropractors achieve some success with manipulation and physical therapy methods, but do not fool yourself, their concept of physiology/pathology is not scientific at all.

        They push food supplements, rail against allopathic medicine and claim that misalignment interferes with benificial energy flows.


        I didn’t say they can’t make achy people feel better, so can massage, and placebo effect is undeniable.

        There is no secret magical energy force, that’s why chiropractic, naturopathy, chinese medicine, acupuncture are not scientific, even if they can relive pain or discomfort.

      • To repeat myself, Chiropractic can help sore people but there is no such thing as scientific chiropractic practice once you leave the realm of manipulative physical therapy stuff.

        Energy theory is hokum bunkum, and restoring normal energy flow is not the reason that chiro works, it works to relieve pain and spasm and stiffness, many times, and often better than pills.

        After that chiros wander into areas they should stay away from like medical issues and vaccination debates, diet advice, food supplements and vitamins. They get involved in food store idiocy and non traditional things like non pasteurized milk, just to appeal to the kooky anxious element that always pops up in a spoiled society.

        How can they propose to deal with people who are sick if they can’t treat infections?

        It is, to say the least an incomplete discipline, a little physical therapy and manipulation a lot of not much else.

        I taught medicine with a chiro who became an allopathic doc, he said when they saw an auto accident with the usual sore all overs, they immediately had the number that he or she was worth–Chiros ain’t dumb when it comes to making money. a long and thorough work up, identification of misalingments and then a thorough and repeated effort to correct things that extended right out to the limit for insurance coverage–that’s the deal.

        He said it was a pretty good living but he couldn’t live with the charlatan aspect. A fine doc I might add and now is out of the Army and in a very good position in academic emergency medicine in a nice hospital up in Yankee land where right now people are freezing. It was 73 yesterday in our part of Texas, going down in the terrible 40s tomorrow for a high.

        • Chiropractors aren’t just for “sore people”. My wife’s migraines were bad enough the MDs were convinced she had a brain tumor until 6 months and thousands of dollars worth of tests disproved it. Vomiting and even passing out were almost daily occurrences. A general practitioner, an ophthalmologist, audiologist, and two neurologists all failed to even come up with a diagnosis (not that they didn’t offer several). To be fair the second neurologist was primarily concerned with getting her off the medication the first neurologist prescribed.
          It took the chiropractor a palpation and a few x-rays to determine exactly what was wrong and just a few treatments to correct it. If I’d gone there first it would have saved the insurance company tens of thousands of dollars and my family a year of stress and anxiety.

          • A palpation cured the problem? Not likely. Now if the patient had tmj or occipital neuritis or an inflammatory condition of the neck, chiro could help it.

            What was the diagnosis for the condition? Malalignment?

            We always get back to the underlying science–anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and I can’t analyze non scientific things like chiro, but I can find places where chiro crosses over and accomplishes good from pressure and manipulation therapy.

            I’ll give you an example. One day I read a great article on pressure therapy for tension headaches. Put 3 fingers on the temple of the sufferer and press, both sides.

            that night I had a gigantic guy come in screaming with headache pain and I determined it was probably tension headache, I said let me do this and we’ll see if it cures your headache and in 10 minutes it made the screaming guy happy and pain free.

            So does that mean I start up a club of pressure therapy providers, or just recognize that muscle tension sometimes responds to pressure therapy. Like gating probably helps acupuncture work.

            My father was a physician and learned how to crack backs and he said it helped some people. More aggressive adjustments and “preventative” adjustments are a little harder to approve.

            Pediatric chiro? For what. Chiro malalignment is not real and all this one leg shorter stuff? please An obese and out of shape natioin will have back troubles and Chiropracters will always have patients because their manipulations help. No denying. Osteopaths have good manipulative techniques too.

            But I don’t approve of providers of any stripe jumping into food supplement claims and selling detoxifiers and promoting nonsense like therapeutic enemas and purging, and that’s what happens when people just wanna be “natural and organic and ancient” whatever.

  3. You’ve read a lot into the very little I typed. I never mentioned psychiatry. A neurologist prescribed topamirate (an anti-seizure pill) to my wife for migraines. The side effects literally almost killed her. The chiropractor x-rayed her neck and showed us how the spine was actually curving the wrong direction. After a few months of therapy, exercises, and sleeping on a curved pillow, her once debilitating migraines were gone.
    Again, I’m only familiar with one chiropractor, but it only takes one fact to disprove a theory. There was no discussion of “magic forces” nor supplements, magic herbs, or even diet. The discussion was of nerves being impinged upon by misaligned joints. Nothing he said about physiology couldn’t be found in a recent edition of Gray’s Anatomy.
    The roots of chiropractic are no more mystical than the roots of chemistry in alchemy, or the roots of astronomy in astrology. To denigrate the entirety of the practice based on what was originally stated more than 100 years ago is unfair. At that time soda was considered cutting edge medicine and heroine was prescribed for drug addiction.
    To be perfectly fair, energy in the form of electricity is transported throughout our bodies and when that energy flow is interfered with by damage to the nerves the symptoms could include pain, tingling, numbness, nausea, constipation, loss of balance, phantom sensations and many other odd. So the founder of chiropractic might not have known why repositioning a certain joint made these mysterious symptoms disappear, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’d fixed the problem rather than just telling the patient to “have a coke and a smile” like the pharmacists of the day were doing. Don’t get me started on what the psychiatrists of the day would have done.

    • Actually no I didn’t read too much into what you think or what makes you tick–you think there is magic energy–I would suggest you get a magnetometer and a geiger counter and check out energy around you and your favorite treater.

      Get this–I have no particular antagonism to the idea that good feelings and positive “vibes” between patient and treater or even between friends can produce positive things, I just don’t think we should, as adults, assert that there are magical energies like Qi or Chi or JuJu or MoJo, whatever.

      Just not seemly since we know how to measure energy.

      We even know how to calculate the reason why Dark Energy, which we cannot measure, may be something that balances and fills up the universe. That’s what physicists say, and I trust they are making calculations that are based on good evidence of some deficit of energy.

      I have yet to meet a Chiropractor or Naturopathist or Acupuncturist or Moxibustionist, or psychiatrist, for that matter, who can “measure” anything much.

      They can survey and question and get peoples impressions and feeling and reactions though, and look the role of cargo cult scientists and sometimes they are more reliable than others, for example sensible rational chiropractors and acupuncturists can do well and not propose silly theories, same with psychiatrists. I am not sure that the mental state of Naturopathists is suited for rational discussions though–anymore than I want talk evidentiary issues with a shaman.

      I am in favor of whatever rows the boat, but I won’t suggest it means that we are in the real of science without some harder objective evidence that is reproducible.

      • Again you seem to have gone off on a rant without reading what I actually typed. I do not, as you suggest, believe in magic. You are correct that we can measure “energy” as you say. It’s how an EKG or an EEG works. Are they unscientific in your estimation? Interference with the flow of this”energy” (which I pointed out is electrical in nature) is what the science of neuropathy is based on. If you cannot grasp that damage to the peripheral nervous system does disturb the “flow” of electrical energy through the body and subsequently causes a multitude of symptoms, I must doubt your signature line insisting you are a doctor.
        Other “magical energies” described historically and later found to be real through scientific study include electrostatic fields, electromagnetic fields, strong force, weak force, gravity…you get the point. You even claim to believe in dark energy which is currently an unproven theory used to patch a hole in current calculations. Until further evidence is collected, dark energy is more of a “magical energy” than the electricity used to control your body. To classify one as the leading edge of science and the other as hocus pocus is a fine example of the prejudice to which I was referring.
        As far as chiropractors not being able to measure anything, mine did, with calipers. There’s nothing mystical or unscientific about that. Measuring the degree of misalignment and tracking its correction, and measuring range of motion and tracking its increase were objective ways of assessing the effectiveness of treatment. Certainly a more scientific method than the neurologist’s arbitrary decision to increase dosage of a pill my wife was having an adverse reaction to.
        As for some chiropractors being out to get money, you can’t seriously be claiming no medical doctors are the same. Also the vast majority of spurious, unscientific claims about new “superfoods”, exercise crazes, or mysterious foreign herb supplements come from MDs. This site exists solely because of the large amount of disinformation that comes from people with fancy degrees. All disciplines have their quacks.
        Lastly, all I asserted is that I had a good experience with one chiropractor that was free of all the mysticism you charge them with. You refuse to believe that and instead charge me with being taken in by fairy tales about magic forces and even condescendingly concede that “good vibes” are a thing, which would actually indicate you believe in more magical energies than I do. I don’t know what kind of terrible experience you had with a chiropractor to poison your mind to the entirety of the population, but you may need to reassess whether your opinion is rooted in scientific fact or emotional subjectivity.

  4. Anecdote: For 6 years I suffered gastric distress that was delayed a few hours after eating, and eating again would relieve it – temporarily. An MD had diagnosed me with a gastric ulcer and threw medications at it. Subsequent MDs never questioned the original diagnosis (that made my wonder why I should bother with a second opinion) and ignored my requests for a gastroscopy. When I finally took it to an OD, he listened to my history, ordered a gastroscopy, and diagnosed a hiatal hernia (bonus: healthy stomach lining!) Properly treated, my problem was cured(!) and has not returned in the 30+ years since.

  5. I’m going to have to give up on you. Your refusal to accept the possibility that I might not be an idiot is limiting my ability to communicate. I did not say a palpation cured anything. I said that it was part of the DIAGNOSTIC process. “It took the chiropractor a palpation and a few x-rays to determine exactly what was wrong”. Is there’s some glaring error in my writing style that would lead you to believe that what I meant by the word “determine” was “cure”?
    Because I’m bored, I’ll attempt one last time to illustrate that in my one lone experience the chiropractor I visited did something of real benefit based on scientific knowledge of anatomy. The X-ray he took of my wife’s neck clearly showed that her cervical vertebrae curved the wrong direction. The diagnosis was that this caused various muscles of the neck to be overworked and easily injured. This injury and inflammation of the muscles, coupled with the misalignment of the vertebrae caused pressure on the nerves travelling through the neck and outside the base of her skull.
    The cure was adjustments, stretches, exercises, cold-compress, and a cheap cervical pillow. Therapy started at three times a week for two weeks and tapered down to once a month. After the first visit her problems were much improved. Eventually they were completely gone. X-rays showed that the curvature of the cervical vertebrae had returned to normal. She hasn’t been back for two years now. Sometimes if she falls asleep on the couch or over exerts herself she’ll start to get a bit of a more normal headache. In those cases she applies cold and does a few of the exercises he taught her and the headache is gone before it ever gets to the point of needing pills.
    Believe me, had he said one word about chi, or vibes, or feng shui I’d have politely thanked him for his time and left. Had he tried to sell me a fortunes worth of magic tablets, I’d have gone right out the door. Had the treatments not worked, I certainly wouldn’t be defending him here to a stranger whose opinions really don’t matter to me. I believe in empirical science. Empirically that one chiropractor proved to me that his methods worked better than the half-dozen or so doctors that attempted to treat my wife. You admit that joint problems and inflammation can cause problems that chiropractors can help, but then commence raving against a litany of associated pseudo-science that I simply haven’t experienced at a chiropractor’s office. When a drug is recalled, we don’t say to hell with pharmaceuticals. When a plastic surgeon takes money from a rich idiot to make her look like a tiger, we don’t say all plastic surgeons are quacks. The prejudicial treatment of good chiropractors based on the practices of others prevents people from getting treatment that may help them. How many drugs started out as strange herbs from a foreign land? How crazy must it have sounded the first time someone suggested taking an organ out of a dead person and putting it in someone else? Science isn’t a clean world of black and white certainty. It’s a dingy grey of unknowns and mystery that we have to sort through by trial-and-error. The concept of energy flowing through the body and causing illness when it’s disrupted is thousands of years old. Modern medical doctors didn’t know that nerves control the body through electrical signals until almost 1920. Today it’s a well-known fact that electrical energy travels through the body by way of nerves and disrupting those nerves can cause a variety of problems. Rather than denouncing the profession of chiropractors completely, modern medicine would be better off taking what works and abandoning what doesn’t. That’s apparently what my chiropractor did. If the MDs had looked at my wife’s neck instead of focusing on her brain, scratching their heads, and prescribing medicine blindly, I’d be singing their praises instead of his.

  6. GH05T “To be perfectly fair, energy in the form of electricity is transported throughout our bodies and when that energy flow is interfered with by damage to the nerves the symptoms…… ”
    “You are correct that we can measure “energy” as you say. It’s how an EKG or an EEG works…….”
    You need to dig a little deeper into the science. Humans are not electric eels. Direct flow of electrons don’t have function in the body. Virtually(because I’m not omniscient) all of the neuro and physical energies in the body are chemical. Neurons and cells function by flows of ions(hence calcium channel blocker drugs), hormones, enzymes, RNA, ATP, and DNA. The tiny electrical currents detected by an EKG or ECG are the by products of the chemical reactions and movments of ions.

    Some direct and indirect electrical and indirect magnetic methods are an have been used because they can make big disturbances in the chemical and ionic processes in the brain. They are much like using sledgehammers on a tack. Direct brain stimulation is a much more fine-tuned, focused approach.

  7. Wow.. this has informatics content about osteopathy and very helpful to the people who is suffering from various pain. You can visit this site also for book an appointment to the expert osteopath physician.

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