Osteopathic Veterinary Medicine: Another functional medicine option
As we turn to more natural or holistic treatment options for our own bodies and general health, pet parents have also started considering a similar approach for their fur babies. Science and homeopathy, including natural treatments and diagnostic protocols, have surged over the last 10 years to offer humans ways to become healthier, achieve more accurate diagnoses and treat the root causes of medical issues, without the intensive pharmacological elements that usually accompany traditional medicine. Similarly, veterinary medicine is more frequently integrating ‘natural’ and functional medicine treatment protocols in a number of areas, including osteopathic veterinary medicine for pets who have underlying muscle or bone related issues.
So what is Osteopathic Veterinary Medicine?
Osteopathy is a type of functional or integrative medicine that treats the body as a functional whole, rather than separate systems with limited interaction. According to Dr. Patricia Kortekaas, who practices veterinary medicine in Eugene, Oregon, “In osteopathy we believe you use the body’s own intrinsic corrective mechanisms to restore full and total body functioning.” The term “osteopathy” originates from the Greek words “osteon”, meaning “bones”, and “pathos”, which can be translated to mean “suffering” or “feelings”. Veterinary osteopathy is a holistic approach to pain that enhances and assists the body’s intrinsic healing abilities. Osteopathic medicine is based on the idea that the body is normally a high functioning system, and when one area is not functioning properly other areas will come to the rescue to help the impaired area feel better, a process which can cause pain in ancillary areas. Ideally osteopathy provides treatment without harmful chemicals or pharmaceuticals when the veterinarian “feels” how each system of the body is working, as compared to how it is supposed to be working, and identifies the root cause of the dysfunction, which may be in a totally different area than the one presenting the symptoms. Once the core problem is identified the veterinarian uses manipulation techniques on the bone or muscle with the core problem to assist the area to return to normal function and cause a domino effect to allow the rest of the affected areas to regain normalcy and achieve natural homeostasis.
Who practices Veterinary Osteopathy?
Veterinary Osteopathy can be provided either by a veterinarian who specializes in osteopathy or by an osteopath who works under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. State law vary in terms of the legally allowed scope of practice for osteopaths so it you decide to work with a non-veterinarian osteopath, be sure you tell your veterinarian that you are seeking treatment with an osteopath and make sure the osteopath is working under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and complying with state scope of practice laws. Be sure that your osteopath or veterinarian of choice provides you with a full diagnosis as well as treatment plan with a range of options that suit your pup’s needs.
What you can expect during an osteopathy visit?
This will vary depending on the specific osteopathic veterinarian you choose and your fur baby’s issues. However, the general procedures and the ideal outcomes will be similar for all treatment protocols, regardless of the issues. First, your osteopathic veterinarian or osteopath should take a history of your pet to identify normal behavioral patterns, eating schedules, exercise patterns and an overall idea of your pet’s general lifestyle. During this time the vet or osteopath may use manipulation techniques on your pet to identify areas of reduced joint movement, as well as gain an understanding of your animal’s healthy joint movement. The osteopathic treatment should not be painful to your fur baby but should instead be relaxing as it is meant to relieve tension and create restorative calm. The length of each visit will depend on the area that needs manipulation as well as the severity of the issues causing the pain. For most basic treatments you should see some improvement within the first 3 treatment visits. The ideal outcome would be that your pet is no longer in pain, and the body’s balance returns to a normal state.
Symptoms that indicate a possible need for Osteopathic treatment
Osteopathic veterinary medicine is most commonly used as a treatment for animals who are experiencing some type of back pain, shoulder or neck problem, post-surgery pain, arthritis, muscle strains as well a possible wide spread pain with no clear underlying source. A diagnosis and treatment from an osteopathic veterinarian may also be helpful for animals with high performance job requirements, such as service animals and animals who participate in agility trials, and for geriatric animals.
Some symptoms which could indicate a need for osteopathic treatment include:
– Whining and crying when moving to stand up or lie down
– Difficulty with steps or climbing
– Distress and discomfort when being stroked or petted in particular areas of the body
– Reluctance to exercise or noticeable pain after exercise
– Lameness, especially when all other causes have been ruled out
– When all other causes have been eliminated and your four-legged companion is still in pain
Tell us about your experiences!
If you have found osteopathy a helpful form of treatment for your fur baby, please share your story with us! How did you find out about osteopathic medicine for your pet and how did you decide who to go to for treatment? What treatments were provided and did they work? We look forward to hearing about your experiences with osteopathic veterinary medicine!
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