Osteomyths

1. Osteopathy is a therapeutic technique.

False. Osteopathy is not a «technique», it is a discipline based on a particular way of thinking about health and ill-health.

2. Osteopathy is a kind of physiotherapy.

False. Physiotherapy is physiotherapy. Osteopathy is osteopathy. Physiotherapy comes from conventional medicine. It thinks in terms of treating this disease or that lesion in this place or that place. Osteopathy comes from a refutation of conventional medical thinking. It thinks in terms of finding global health.

3. Osteopaths are spine specialists.

False. Osteopaths know a lot about bones, muscles, and joints. Some specialise in the treatment of musculoskeletal complaints, others do not.

4. Osteopathy is just for back, joint and muscle problems.

False. Osteopathy has applications in a wide range of health problems, including but not exclusively back, joint and muscle problems. Osteopathy promotes general health. Good general health is an antidote to every health problem.

5. Osteopaths crack your bones.

False. Many use techniques that produce joint noises. Others never do. The osteopathic toolbox is vast. «Cracking» techniques are sometimes useful, but more often than not they are quite unnecessary.

6. Osteopaths try to cure your ailments by manipulation.

False. No doctor or therapist «cures» anything. Your own body heals itself within limits imposed by the nature of the problem and any impediments to self-regulation. Osteopaths understand that, and help you to remove impediments to self-healing, whether that involves manual treatment or not.

7. Osteopathy is a discipline complementary to medicine.

False, in my opinion. There are many medical practices in direct opposition to osteopathic principles.

8. Osteopaths put your bones back in place.

False. Osteopaths do not do that, except in a few relatively rare circumstances. Osteopaths improve the workings of your body. That is a very different thing.

9. A pain in the neck is caused by a problem in the neck.

False. A pain in the neck is either caused by a short-term physiological reaction to direct trauma (in which case it is not a problem, it is part of the solution), or it is a global problem.

10. I strained my knee playing football. I need osteopathic treatment before the match on Saturday so I can play.

False. You cannot pretend it is osteopathic treatment to bend the laws of physics or disregard natural biological processes. First do no harm. You do not need to play again on Saturday. You need to rest. Otherwise, go to a physiotherapist or a magician!

11. Osteopathy is expensive.

False. My belief is that osteopathy has an excellent cost/benefit relationship. For example, in my experience many spinal surgeries have been avoided by osteopathic treatment. Compare a few hundred euros for a course of osteopathic treatment, with a few thousand for surgery. Osteopathy is for those who value their health and who value quality natural health care.

Copyright © Robert Hale 2022.
Image © Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Robert Hale practises osteopathy in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.

Tratamiento del Dolor por Osteopatía y Acupuntura

El alivio del dolor es una gran parte del trabajo de la mayoría de los profesionales de la salud. En mi profesión como profesional sanitario, el tratamiento del dolor es una de mis áreas de especial interés. Déjame contaros un poco sobre el dolor y cómo lo abordo.

Hay dos tipos generales de dolor:

  1. Dolor proveniente de alguna parte dañada del cuerpo («dolor nociceptivo»).
  2. Dolor generado por el sistema nervioso sin daño al cuerpo («dolor neuropático»).

¡Espera! ¿Cómo puede haber dolor sin daño? Bueno, aquí hay un par de maneras. Primer ejemplo: Es posible que haya habido un daño que ahora se ha curado, pero el sistema nervioso no se ha ajustado de nuevo a la normalidad. Segundo ejemplo: El sistema nervioso puede haberse sensibilizado por numerosos traumas físicos u emocionales previos, de modo que produce una respuesta de dolor a estímulos físicos menores. hay que tener en cuenta que todo el dolor se produce en el cerebro, aunque se sienta en el pie, en el estómago o en la cabeza. La diferencia es que en el primer caso está relacionado con un daño actual real y en el segundo caso no lo está.

El primer tipo de dolor (dolor nociceptivo) puede dividirse en dolor proveniente de la estructura externa del cuerpo como la piel, los músculos y las articulaciones («dolor somático») y dolor proveniente de los órganos internos del cuerpo («dolor visceral»). Este último puede ser confuso porque a menudo se experimenta primero en los músculos exteriores del cuerpo. El osteópata está excepcionalmente preparado para distinguir entre estos tipos de dolor, una distinción que es fundamental en su tratamiento.

Arriba dije que el tratamiento del dolor es una de mis áreas de especial interés. Eso no es exacto. Sería más exacto decir que el tratamiento de la persona con dolor es mi área de especialización. La diferencia es que, como terapeuta holístico, trato a las personas, no a los síntomas ni a los enfermedades. Al tratar a la persona, el síntoma desaparece o al menos mejora, lo que indica una mejora en cualquier trastorno subyacente.

Las disciplinas que practico, la osteopatía y la acupuntura, son excelentes para tratar a las personas que padecen el dolor. En mi experiencia, la osteopatía es el tratamiento de elección para la mayoría de los tipos de dolor comunes, mientras que la acupuntura a veces es preferible para ciertos tipos de dolor neuropático y algunos tipos de artritis inflamatoria. En este último caso también haría uso de mis conocimientos de fitoterapia.

Mis estudios formales me han equipado bien para reconocer condiciones que requieren tratamiento médico convencional o que serían mejor manejadas por otros profesionales de la salud. Por ejemplo, mi gran interés es ayudar a las personas con dolor crónico (dolor que ha estado presente durante meses o más), una condición en la que siempre hay factores psicológicos y de comportamiento involucrados. Cuando me di cuenta de esto, hice una curso de Master de tres años en psicología de la salud para poder ayudar mejor a estas personas. Sin embargo, no soy un psicólogo, y si hay problemas de trauma o depresión graves, conflictos emocionales profundos o adicción, entonces recomendaría a un profesional de la salud competente para este aspecto del cuidado de la persona.

Los Dolores Más Comunes

  • Dolor de columna (dolor de espalda o de cuello causado por lesiones menores o degeneración estructural)
  • Tensión muscular
  • Dolor de cabeza (por problemas de la columna cervical o tensión muscular)
  • Tendinitis (del hombro, codo, por ejemplo, codo de tenista, muñeca, rodilla, cadera y tobillo, por ejemplo, tendón de Aquiles)
  • Hombro congelado (capsulitis adhesiva)
  • Artrosis (de la cadera, la rodilla, el tobillo, el hombro, el codo, los dedos de las manos)
  • Dolor en el pie (por ejemplo, dolor plantar, dolor metatarsiano)
  • Ciática
  • Neuralgia braquial (dolor nervioso en el brazo)
  • Esguinces y torceduras
  • Dolor en la caja torácica
Copyright (c) Robert Hale 2022.
Foto de dominio público de Pikist.com. 

Robert Hale ofrece tratamiento para el dolor mediante osteopatía y acupuntura en Santa Eulalia, Ibiza. 

Treatment of Pain by Osteopathy and Acupuncture

Pain relief is a large part of most health professionals’ work. In my profession as a healthcare provider, the treatment of pain is one of my areas of special interest. Let me tell you a little bit about pain and how I approach it.

There are two general kinds of pain:

  1. Pain coming from some damaged part of the body («nociceptive pain»).
  2. Pain generated by the nervous system without any damage to the body («neuropathic pain»).

Whoa! Wait! How can there be pain without damage? Well, here are a couple of ways. First example: There may have been damage which has now healed, but the nervous system has not adjusted back to normal. Second example: The nervous system may have become sensitised by numerous previous physical or emotional traumas, so that it produces pain response to minor physical stimuli. Note here that all pain is produced in the brain, even though it is felt in the foot, or stomach or head. The difference is that in the first case it is related to actual current damage and in the second case it is not.

The first kind of pain (nociceptive pain) can be further broken down into pain coming from the outer body like skin, muscles and joints («somatic pain») and pain coming from the inner body organs («visceral pain»). The latter can be confusing because it is often first experienced in the muscles of the outer body. The osteopath is uniquely prepared to distinguish between these kinds of pain, a distinction which is critical in their treatment.

Above I said that the treatment of pain was one of my areas of special interest. That is not exact. It would be more accurate to say that the treatment of the person in pain is my area of expertise. The difference is that as a holistic practitioner I treat people, not symptoms or disorders. By treating the person, the symptom goes away or at least gets better, indicating an improvement in any underlying disorder.

The disciplines that I practise, osteopathy and acupuncture, are excellent at treating people suffering with pain. In my experience osteopathy is the treatment of choice for most kinds of common pain complaints, while acupuncture is sometimes preferable for certain kinds of neuropathic pain and some kinds of inflammatory arthritis. In the latter case I would also make use of my knowledge of herbal medicine.

My formal studies have well equipped me to recognise conditions which require conventional medical treatment or which would best be managed by other health professionals. For example, my great interest is helping people with chronic pain (pain that has been present for months or more), a condition in which there are always psychological and behavioural factors involved. When I recognised this, I took a three-year masters degree in health psychology in order that I may help these people better. Nevertheless I am not a qualified psychologist, and if there are issues of serious trauma or depression, deep emotional conflicts, or addiction then I would refer to a competent health professional for this aspect of the person’s care.

Most Common Pain Complaints

  • Spinal pain (back pain or neck pain caused by strains, minor injury or degeneration)
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches (from spinal problems or muscle tension)
  • Tendinitis (of the shoulder, elbow e.g. tennis elbow, wrist, knee, hip and ankle e.g. Achilles tendon)
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Osteoarthritis (affecting the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, fingers)
  • Foot pain (e.g. plantar pain, metatarsal pain)
  • Sciatica
  • Brachial neuralgia (nerve pain in the arm)
  • Strains and sprains
  • Pain around the rib cage


Copyright (c) Robert hale 2021.
Photo by Nick Youngson via Picpedia, reprosuced according to Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Robert Hale provides treatment for pain by osteopathy and acupuncture in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.

Osteopathy – a general plan that is tolerant of our ignorance

One of my patients needed written clarification of the things we discussed at our first meeting. She writes:

Could please tell me again what your idea is of what is happening in my body to cause my symptoms? Also, what is your approach for treating this?

In my reply, as premises to the comments specific to her case, I made the following points:

  1. We don’t know everything (nor even a small part) about the way the body works, so we need an approach which is tolerant of our ignorance.
  2. In osteopathy, the working hypothesis is not as important as the general plan. The general plan says: «Be faithful to osteopathic principles and treat the patterns you find». The beauty of this is that it allows you to do useful work even if your working hypothesis may actually be wrong.
  3. Especially in chronic cases, chasing a single, clear «cause» is a wild goose chase. It is much more realistic and useful to think in terms of a network of multiple, reciprocal influences, each of which contributes to the maintenance of the whole (dysfunctional) system.
  4. The more you focus on detail, the less you appreciate the basic general patterns.
  5. As an osteopath I approach all problems in the same way (see number 2 above). The most important principle for the osteopath is to reduce at least one general kind of stress and strain from the body (the mechanical kind), so that the whole organism, unloaded a little, frees up some of its resources for healing.

This works.

Copyright Robert Hale © 2022. 
Photo by Paolo Melchiorre via Flickr, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

Robert Hale practises osteopathy in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza.