Osteopathy is a type of manual therapy. Manual therapists are practitioners that use their hands (primarily) in order to help people. This may be in the form of soft tissue or massage techniques, joint manipulation (clicking), joint stretching, neuromuscular techniques, lymphatic techniques and joint mobilisation techniques. These techniques may be used to:
- free a restricted joint,
- relax a muscle,
- reduce swelling,
- correct the position of a bone that is out alignment (or “out”),
- improve blood flow,
- reduce pressure on a nerve or to help an injury heel faster.
Other manual therapies include Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and occasionally some doctors use manual therapy techniques.
In New Zealand, Osteopaths are statutorily registered practitioners. Five years, full-time training is required in order to become an Osteopath. This training covers anatomy, physiology, pathology and general medical diagnosis in addition to Osteopathic technique. Osteopaths are primary care practitioners, and are trained to be able to recognise conditions which require medical referral. They are also trained to carry out standard medical examinations of the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous system.