Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Hippocrates: 'In therapy, first do no harm'

As Hippocrates - often considered to be the father of Western Medicine - wrote (circa 400 BC):

In therapy, first do no harm.
Life is short, art is long, the occasion fleeting.
Experience decietful and judgement difficult.

Thinking about this - seems very appropriate for describing good Osteopathy, and good Acupuncture.

In physcial therapy, our technique must be gentle, considered and measured, and never harsh or invasive (do no harm) and our approach and treatment refined, gentle, and conservative (no harm) rather than radical or excessive.  This is the hallmark of good technique, and a good osteopath, or acupuncturist.  Even in manipulation - if called for and appropriate - we only 'tweak' the joints, when they are ready, and only after appropriate and proper articulation, prepartion, and work on relevant surrounding' soft-tissues' (muscles).  Never 'bashing' or 'crunching' joints in the attempt to get the release at any cost (harsh technique). This is uncalled for and unnecessary - as John Littlejohn (the 2nd father of Osteopathy, who studied with Still, and took Ostoepathy to Europe) replied when questioned about manipulation.

I also like the second part of Hipprocrates comment:

Life is short, art is long, the occasion fleeting.
Experience decietful and judgement difficult.

A very good description of the attitude I take when approaching diagnosis, Osteopathic and Orthopaedic evaluation, physical therapy and manipulation.



Of course, Physical Therapy (perhaps together with Herbalism) is perhaps the oldest form of medicine and Health care, and I'm certain that Hippocrates was familiar with massage and manipualtion.  We know this was practiced even before his time - and that the Egyptians and Mesopotaneans used massage and manipulation.  After all, Osteopathy is a fairly recent word (coined by Andrew Still in the 1860s).  The tradition of Physical Therapy goes back much further, to the very beginnings of civilization.


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