Manual osteopathy for shoulders and knees

The majority of people who utilize osteopathy do so to address back pain issues. However, this safe and gentle treatment approach is highly effective in addressing multitude of concerns.

Osteopathy has long been in existence. Much like physiotherapy and chiropractic, osteopathy aims to improve health and wellness through non-invasive manual therapy. 

It works on the premise that our structure can get compromised through life style patterns, injuries and posture.  Manual Osteopaths look at the relationship between structure of the body and the way the body is functioning. We also consider organ functions, which is a branch called visceral osteopathy.  Manual Osteopaths are also interested in improving the circulation of intracellular and extracellular bodily fluids and liquids.  The work conducted can encompass cranial sacral techniques.  Gentle palpation movements on the cranium, spine, pelvis and other areas that are blocked are used to improve the functions of the central nervous system.  

Shoulder complaints can include problems with rotator cuff, frozen shoulder, or muscle tears.

When examining complaints of the shoulder, I consider other areas within the scope of practice.  The work is not isolated to the location of pain. Manual Osteopaths regard the whole body. Osteopathy is very much a holistic approach to health.  While the pain might have a clear site, the origin of the pain may well be on the opposite side of the body or related to an organ.  

Most shoulder damage can be attributed to an imbalance in the tension between the muscles surrounding the shoulder. The shoulder joint itself is a susceptible area of complaint, due to the fact that it’s a junction point in connecting parts of the body.  Wherever there is a junction there is a likelihood for tension.

Sometimes pain in the upper arm is felt when the arm is lifted or when using or lying on the muscles.  There may also be pain that extends around the deltoid region.    This may be linked to rotator cuff problems or could be connected to other shoulder or neck injuries that are acute or chronic.

The rotator cuff consists of subscapularis, supraspinatus, teres minor and infraspinatus muscles deep within the shoulder. These four muscles help the shoulder function properly. They can be impacted through overuse, tears or acute injuries.   They can be  susceptible to getting injured.

To treat the rotator cuff in an acute situation, it’s important to rest and ice the area so as to reduce inflammation.  My treatments of rotator cuff have included using various mobilization techniques, along soft tissue therapy and muscle energy to strengthen the area, decrease pain and improve mobility.

Muscle tears can also cause shoulder pain and could be related to repetitive strain, or muscles being overstretched.  Usually the most common muscle shoulder tear is the supraspinatus muscle.  When seeing a manual osteopath for a shoulder tear, the treatment would work around the whole shoulder joint, to help increase the range of motion and circulation, as well as to identify areas of weakness or restriction. Using soft tissue techniques, muscle energy techniques and joint mobilization, the areas in question are built up again and stabilized.  Additional exercises may also be recommended, along with a treatment plan.  

Frozen shoulder is another area commonly treated through manual osteopathy.  In these cases, clients may present with shoulder stiffness and pain. Because these symptoms impact body mechanics, I may focus on loosening the areas so that the person can have increased range of motion.  As well, gentle I would aim to reduce shoulder pain and stiffness.   Other areas of the body will also be treated to help overall balance and recovery.

For complaints of the knee, ankle mobility, as well as the health of your back, hips and pelvis is considered. In addition, I would evaluate your medical history and regard factors not directly related to your current chief complaints, such as level of activity or nutrition.

Knee complaints may include pain, inflammation, damage to cartilage or stiffness.  Many factors can result in knee complaints. Some include injuries, overuse, cartilage damage, tears, degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), gout, autoimmune conditions, like M.S. or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Affected knee areas could be ligament, joint, tendon, cartilage, tissue, or muscle.

Overall, the knee is one of the most commonly injured joints in the body.  It is a vital joint in allowing for proper movement.  Working with the ankles and hips, the knee is crucial in supporting the body when sitting, walking or standing.   When the knee is injured, it is important to address it and to find an effective and relevant treatment plan.  Avoiding the issue can have further implications on quality of life.  Manual osteopathy addresses knee complaints and helps to prevent long term issues, like osteoarthritis.

Injuries to the ligaments are often a result of sports activities, where there is overextension and twisting of the knee.  Of the four knee ligaments, the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a common point of injury. The ACL stabilizes the knee and the tibia.  The patella is another area that can be addressed through osteopathy.  Patella issues can cause wear and tear under the knee cap and there may be creaking sound in the joints. Typically, deep squats and inclines may trigger pain. 

Another potential injury point could involve the meniscus.  Tears in the meniscus can happen with repeated activities that involve rotating the knee joint.  Symptoms may include swelling, locking of the knee or the knee giving out.    Sometimes, other areas around the knee are the chief complaint.  For example, the hamstring muscle has impact on how the knee and hips move. The psoas muscle can create restriction in knee mobility. Foot problems are another common area of concern when assessing knee complaints. Foot issues may be related to limitations in the back, hips or pelvis, all of which would be assessed in an osteopathic treatment.

The treatment would encompass increasing range of motion of the joints and helping to strengthen muscles and overall flexibility. Because osteopathy considers the relationship between structure and function, the treatments work to trigger the body’s own self healing and self-regulating process.

In the long run, manual osteopathy can help to ease pain, increase mobility and range of motion, allowing you to be freer in your movements.  Manual osteopathy is a treatment choice covered by most insurance plans.