20 May 2008

Let's twist again

Joanne Hart went off to an osteopath to have her slouch seen to. But he turned out to give her a health overhaul.


I saw an osteopath for the first time last week. Will it be the last time?

I consider it an accomplishment to have made it to the age of 45 without having ever broken any major bones, or suffering from lower back pain, and I must say that the prospect of being twisted and wrenched was rather daunting. Having a very sketchy idea that osteopathy sounded like a tough version of chiropractic, I went off to meet my destiny.

When I arrived, Dr Guy Ashburner explained that osteopathy is based on the principle that illness is the result of an imbalance within the body’s system and the aim of osteopathy is the correction of problems in the body frame.

Those corrections could include straightening out my shameful slouch, or correcting my eating habits. To find out we started with a patient history. To my surprise, it wasn’t all about bones at all. The doctor wanted to know about prior illnesses, diet, family history, injuries, operations – all the things that add up to give a detailed patient profile.

What is osteopathy?
Andrew Taylor Still began the practice of osteopathy in the United States in 1874. Osteopathy and chiropractic stem from same philosophy, but have developed in different directions. Both therapies are based on the idea that the body is able to maintain good health if allowed to do so, and both were started around the same time in the USA, and both emphasise the manipulation of bones and joints.

Apart from manipulation though, osteopaths use other techniques such as stretching, pressure and mobilisation. Osteopaths are also trained in craniosacral therapy, involving very subtle and gentle adjustments without any “clicking” of the joints. These techniques are seldom used by chiropractors.

Time to be stretched
The profile was complete and we had uncovered many reasons for my upper body tension, mostly in the neck and shoulders. A couple of incidents of whiplash, 7- 8 cups of coffee a day and general stress were more than enough to go on – now it was time for the physical examination.

Dr Ashburner had me stand and go through a series of stretches in order to assess any blockages or difficulties. The next step took place on the massage bed where various stress points, joints and the state of my neck were tested.

Osteopathy effective for all ages
While having my spine and neck assessed, I was able to find out that Dr Ashburner was trained in the United Kingdom, doing two years of specialised clinical paediatric training which included working at Barnet General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and children’s wards.

He explained what it was like to be treating little ones in a large ward containing twenty massage beds, with all the families and hawkeyed supervisors in attendance. Suddenly the reasons for my own stress levels looked insignificant. It seems that osteopathy is very useful in relieving many infant ailments such as colic, feeding and sleep problems.

Instant relief
Dr Ashburner did quite a few manipulations of my neck, shoulders and spine, but all were very gentle and some led to instant relief. Even when he warned that a certain pressure might be painful or give a strange sensation, I am relieved to say that I only felt mild discomfort once, and it was fleeting.

After the manipulations, I was asked to do the same stretches with which we had started the session. I could already feel an improvement in my mobility, as well as more flexibility in areas that are usually stiff.

All in all, it was an hour well-spent. I am drinking more water and paying attention to my posture. And drinking much less coffee.

For more information, contact:
Dr Guy Ashburner BSc(Hons) Ost(U.K), D.P.O.
Osteopathic Consultant
To find out more, visit or call 0741 184 184
Available at ‘Steps To Health Pharmacy & Health Shop’
Cnr. Boundary & Kendal Roads, Constantia / Diep River

Read more:
Osteopathy applications
Osteopathy and pregnancy

Sources: Dr Guy Ashburner

(Joanne Hart, Health24, May 2008)


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