Laura Woodrow, d.o.
Osteopathic Physician
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The body is a unit

All structures and functions in the body are united and interdependent, with health comprised of the components of mind/mental, body/physical, and spirit/emotional.

To better understand the body, we commonly break it down into various parts:

  • Circulatory system (including the heart)
  • Nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves)
  • Lymphatic system (can be thought of as the circulatory system for the immune system)
  • Endocrine system (includes glands such as the pituitary and thyroid and associated hormones)
  • Immune system
  • Muscular system (including skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle)
  • Skeletal system (including bones, ligaments, tendons, and associated fascia)
  • Digestive system
  • Respiratory system (from the nose to the lungs)
  • Reproductive system
  • Urinary system (including kidneys, bladder, and urethra)

However, no single part exists independent of the whole. When even a small part of the body dysfunctions, the entire organism is affected. For example, fascia is one continuous connective tissue matrix that invests and encapsulates every tissue and organ throughout the body. It is called different things depending upon which part of the body it resides, but it is all one continuous piece of living tissue. Fascia can become restricted by the formation of scar tissue, such as after trauma, surgery, or infection or simply from a stationary lifestyle. When fascia becomes restricted, it pulls from one part of the body to another, much in the way that touching one part of a spider web pulls the whole web. Osteopaths understand this continuity and seek to support the health of the whole.

DO's emphasize that all body systems, including the musculoskeletal system, operate in unison - and disturbances in one system can alter functions of other systems. By recognizing the close relationship between body structure and organic functioning, the DO has a broader base for treating the whole patient. For example, surgical removal of a diseased gallbladder is a valuable and acceptable practice of osteopathic physicians. However, DO's believe that medicine must be more than an attempt to repair, relieve or remove the end product of disease processes. The gallbladder does not function independently; its nerve and blood supply and chemical balance of body fluids also may be implicated. Besides stopping an acute episode of illness, the DO's underlying concern is to return the patient to a state of optimum health by dealing directly with the internal conditions that caused the disease in the first place.