This week’s addition to our series of posts about nonsurgical treatments for back pain is about Osteopathy and Rolfing.
Osteopathy is a recognized medical discipline that has much in common with traditional medicine. Doctors of osteopathy are licensed to perform many of the same therapies and procedures as traditional doctors. They may specialize in various forms of medicine.
One area where osteopathy differs from traditional medicine is its reliance on manipulation to address joint and spinal problems. Similar in this respect to chiropractic medicine, an osteopath performs manipulation to try to release pressure on the patient’s joints and to improve movement and flow of bodily fluids by aligning the musculoskeletal structure.
As with chiropractic medicine, the effectiveness of osteopathy in improving mobility and relieving pain is debatable. Many studies support osteopathic techniques for many joint and muscle related conditions.
This therapy uses deep massage to align the body so that all of its components are positioned correctly. The theory behind Rolfing is that injury or stress causes tissues to adhere in unhealthful ways, interfering with the body’s natural movement and producing symptoms such as fatigue and pain. To restore natural alignment, deep pressure is applied in an attempt to stretch the tissues and help reposition muscles and joints. No scientific studies prove Rolfing’s benefits. Its deep massage may help reduce stress and tension, but some people find the procedure painful.
Source: Prairie Spine and Pain Institute, Dr. Richard A. Kube II, MD.