The American Medical Association fought against osteopathy for a long time, but in the end it took the “if you can’t win – lead” path, allowing osteopaths to become real doctors and recognizing osteopathic schools as medical schools. In return, osteopaths were able to load full responsibility for patients – as it should be for licensed doctors. As a result, since the sixties, osteopaths in the United States have turned into family doctors who practice some kind of manual techniques.
This approach has gained momentum. Under the slogan “do what you want, but bear medical responsibility for the consequences of your actions” osteopathy was legalized in 1993 in Great Britain, later in Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Portugal, Egypt and India. In all countries where osteopathy became official, approximately the same picture was observed: some osteopaths gradually moved to scientific rails, concentrating on various methods of relaxation, rehabilitation after injuries, and work with contractures (limitation of movement in the joint). In this case, they turned out to be covered from the legal side – recommendations and guidelines that were previously actively used by specialists in physiotherapy exercises, massage, sports medicine and other related specialties.
One osteopath briefly described the essence of movement in an interview: “A chiropractor is a massage therapist with a raised price tag. An osteopath is a chiropractor with a raised price tag. ” That is, some of the adherents of osteopathy have successfully merged into mainstream medicine, leaving only an attractive facade for especially impressionable patients, for which they are ready to pay extra. The advantage of this approach is that the osteopath has a medical education and the opportunity, if something happens, to ask him through the court as an ordinary doctor.
In the USSR, osteopaths began active work during the perestroika period. The starting point is considered the lecture of the famous American osteopath Viola Fraiman at the Turner Research Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology in Leningrad in 1988. The author of this material was present at it – everything was presented very “tasty”, harmonious and logical, and some Soviet doctors, who were not spoiled by the alternative, were fired up with a new idea, went to the USA to gain experience. The fact that in 1992 Fryman was accused of official inconsistency for the negligent and unprofessional treatment of a patient, a one-week-old baby, was no longer of interest to anyone: the grains of weeds that fell on fertile soil began to swell violently. As a result, by 1994, the first Russian non-state osteopathic school was created in St. Petersburg, in 2003 the Ministry of Health officially recognized osteopathy as a treatment method, in 2012 the documentary registration of the specialty began, which ended three years ago.
What is your evidence
Like any alternative method, even if legalized, osteopathy has big problems with the evidence base. The authors of one of the few scientific reviews on the topic concluded that “there is no clinically significant difference between osteopathic and other interventions to reduce pain and improve function in patients with chronic lower back pain.” If we analyze the results of studies in which the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulations has been shown, numerous design violations, errors in statistical processing of results, or simply an incorrect interpretation of the data obtained are necessarily found. In one of the analyzes, it turned out that in fact, in a randomized controlled trial, osteopathic manipulations were not only ineffective, but also reduced the effectiveness of rehabilitation, although the authors, of course, argued the opposite.
And even convinced osteopaths are increasingly saying that there is a lack of well-conducted research. Otherwise, osteopaths run the risk of being stuck in the wheels of history – after all, scientific medicine continues to develop at an impressive pace.
There are contraindications
Osteopathy, of course, can also do harm. Directly – unlikely, osteopaths are not chiropractors who are ready to “set” the vertebrae and twist the patient’s head so that the vertebral artery is damaged and a stroke develops. Fortunately, osteopaths are much more cautious – perhaps that’s why they legalized them, not chiropractors. And legalization, in turn, led to the fact that osteopaths got rid of the statement about the absence of contraindications. Previously it was “possible for everyone without exception”, now – “there are a lot of contraindications.”
For example, the official website of the Russian Osteopathic Association provides an impressive list of contraindications : these are a variety of infections, fever, diseases of the skin, blood, heart and lungs, benign and malignant tumors, and much more. A separate line mentions acute and subacute inflammatory diseases of the brain and spinal cord and its membranes – myelitis, meningitis and others, which is especially interesting in the context of the birth of osteopathy as a way of miraculous healing, including from meningitis.
The indirect harm from osteopathy, as is usually the case in such cases, can be done in two ways. The first is the diagnosis of a non-existent disease and its treatment for a tangible amount of money. A characteristic sign of “divorce” can be considered the words of an osteopath about the need to straighten a certain internal organ, correct the symmetry of the skull bones, and restore a certain craniosacral rhythm. The second is a waste of time with a real-life disease, when the help of a specialized specialist is required. This mainly concerns diseases from the list of contraindications – in the event that the osteopath does not bother to inform the patient about it.
If you have a burning desire to see an osteopath, first make sure that this is not contraindicated for you. Also inquire about the availability of all the necessary documents such as a diploma and license. And, of course, keep in mind that there will be no miracles – you can simply be helped to relax. If this is exactly what is needed, you can turn to an osteopath, and in all other cases it is better to start with specialists with a more scientific background.