Even in cases of existing osteo-arthritic conditions, improvement may be brought about through osteopathic treatment in terms of improved mobility, the lessening of pain, and possibly the slowing down of the degenerative process. This is especially likely in spinal regions such as the neck and upper thortic spine and the lower back and pelvic joints which are those most abused by bad postural habits. Osteopathic treatment cannot undo the damage already done, however, but it can often minimize the effects by increasing the degree of mobility in all but extremely advanced cases.
Chronic or acute obstruction of the breathing passages may yield to osteopathic manipulative therapy, although the causative factors must also be dealt with, and it is not suggested that structural factors play a major part in the background to bronchitic conditions. Osteopathic treatment in the spinal, chest and diaphragm areas can improve respiratory function and seems to speed the elimination of obstructing mucus. Apart from the mobilizing of the structure of the chest, such as ribs and their articulations with the spine and sternum, there are specific osteopathic methods such as the 'thoracic pump' and the 'diaphragmatic coming' techniques which may help.
When the problem results from an over-contracted or spastic bowel, osteopathic treatment may assist in normalizing the condition, in conjunction with a restructured diet to include a high degree of fibre.
Osteopaths find that there is frequently a spinal element involved in digestive dysfunction, whether the condition involves over- or under-supply of acid, or over- or under-supply of enzymes, or increased or decreased blood supply, to particular regions of the digestive organs. Osteopathic treatment is non-specific in such conditions, and usually areas of spinal dysfunction will be found in the mid and lower thoracic areas. The normalizing of these, together with dietary changes, can alleviate the problem.
There are a great variety of causes of what are generally termed headaches, but one of the main causes of the common headache is tension in the neck and back of the skull and this is found to be particularly amenable to osteopathic treatment. Also, a definite reduction in frequency and intensity of pain was found to result from the osteopathic normalization of the cervical spine when research into migraine was conducted at the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy in the early 1970s.
Many headaches of less obvious origins may respond to a combination of cranial, cervical and upper thoracic normalization, but it would be wrong to assume that all headaches can always be relieved by osteopathy. In my own experience, however, I have found that some headaches of many years duration have yielded to just one treatment session.
Generally the improvement of mobility in the thoracic spine and chest region after osteopathic manipulation seems to enhance the heart's function and in turn the blood is more efficiently oxygenated.
References have been made in Chapter 7 to the results of research into the possibility of a musculo-skeletal connection in cases of cardiac disorder, and the correction of spinal dysfunction by osteopathic manipulative therapy is claimed to reduce the chances of cardiac distress.
A frequent finding is that of what has come to be called ‘false angina'. In this condition all the classical symptoms of angina occur (pressure in the chest, breathlessness, pain in one or both arms etc. ) but they fail to respond to drug therapy. In many such cases there is found to be an upper thoracic lesion which responds to simple manipulative techniques with a consequent disappearance of the symptoms.