When osteopathy was first developed by Dr. Still in the mid-1800s, traditional allopathic medicine was still in its infancy. There were very few drugs available and the relationship of germs to disease was not yet established. In fact, the cellular structure of the body was not accepted and the nature of the immune system was not known. The development of osteopathy in this environment was a phenomenal medical breakthrough in the process of helping the body to heal itself.
While both chiropractic and osteopathy include techniques for correcting abnormal conditions of the musculoskeletal system, osteopaths go a step further. In addition to treating the joints, doctors of osteopathy also include the adjacent muscles and ligaments. Osteopathic doctors believe that their practice is more concerned with the total region of the spine rather than the neck region and rely more on the sense of touch than x-ray.
Because doctors of osteopathy also include manipulation of the fascia, or any fiber sleeve that divides and subdivides all parts of the body, they also treat pain and other symptoms that arise from organs or muscles that become injured whenever the fascia becomes trapped, bruised or overstretched. This is an incredible definition of injuries that often occur to the hands.
Carpal tunnel, tendinitis and arthritis of the hands all fall under the description given above. Osteopathic treatments can help reduce pain, swelling and improve mobility and range of motion in cases where individuals are more interested in helping the body to heal itself than they are in popping another pill or going into surgery. Treatment can require repeated sessions provides a doctor of osteopathy is usually moderately priced and will approach an illness or disease with an overall health focus on the body.
Hand therapy can include water exercises, teaching individuals healthy habits when using their hands, and developing exercise program to decrease stiffness in the muscular system as well as improve the strength.
Doctors of osteopathy are also qualified to treat tendinitis of the rotator cuff, biceps, elbow, hip, knee, shin as well as the wrist and hand. In treating tendinitis a doctor of osteopathy will utilize gentle hand motions to detect the restricted movement intention and identify the source of pain. They will take an overall medical history, perform a physical exam and possibly to x-rays before proposing a treatment program.
Since tendinitis often involves an area of the body used in a person’s occupation additional treatment can involve strengthening and stretching exercises, weight loss advice, recommendations to protect the tendon from overuse and stress, ultrasound treatments, immobilization, manipulation and in severe cases injections of corticosteroids or surgery to repair tendon damage.
Osteopathic Manipulation Techniques are noninvasive and help to manipulate and adjust the muscles, ligaments and bones. The goals of manipulation of the hands include stressing the muscles and supporting ligaments, relieving muscle spasms, promoting free movement and improving blood flow.
Carpal tunnel is another diagnosis that affects the hands and wrists which osteopathic physicians are able to assist in the treatment of. During carpal tunnel syndrome there is a compression of the median nerve that runs through the wrist and the severity of the symptoms can be determined by performing a nerve conduction tests. One of the more common complaints is numbness or tingling of the wrist and hands and often pain that radiates into the elbow or shoulder.
Interestingly, in 1998, researchers discovered a link between the diagnosis of hypothyroidism and carpal tunnel syndrome. They found that individuals who were treated effectively for their hypothyroidism had a significant improvement in their carpal tunnel syndrome.
While doctors of osteopathy are able to offer effective treatment for hand and wrist conditions there are restrictions to their abilities for treatments. For instance active infections, fractures, bone disease, cancer, gross structural deformities and severe or medical conditions such as abnormally high blood pressure or heart attack are conditions which require more allopathic traditional medical intervention in order to place the body in a position where it is able to accept a more natural approach.