An Osteopathic Approach to Long COVID (and other chronic health conditions)
May 18, 2022
Osteopathic training allows us to understand and work with the interrelationships of the movement and function of the various parts of the body – the interrelationship between the musculoskeletal system and the function of the organs, nervous systems, immune functions, and hormonal and endocrine systems that are interdependent on each other.
The body functions together as a whole unit.
In order to successfully restore health, osteopaths treat the body as a functional unit, not just its parts.
Osteopathic therapy focuses on the various parts of the body, to understand how dysfunction in certain areas or systems, disrupts function to the body as a whole.
COVID-19 affects each person individually in terms or severity and chronicity of symptoms that remain even after apparent recovery from the acute illness. According to recent statements made by medical researchers, “this has left the medical community baffled and essentially working without a playbook”.
The osteopathic approach to long COVID recovery focusses on the various body systems that have been affected and uses treatment approaches that allow the body to start normalizing function of the various parts to restore a more cohesive function.
Current research is showing that women are more commonly presenting with long COVID. Although there are speculations, the reason for this are not fully understood yet.
In my practice working with individuals who present with long COVID, the majority are women. What I have found is that these individuals present with common pre-existing movement and functional imbalances that affect breathing mechanisms, imbalances in core function, and disruption in pelvic, upper body mechanics such as thoracic, shoulder and neck movements. This makes a lot of sense to me, as we already know that these areas all influence breathing and core function, which in turn impacts things such as autonomic regulation, visceral functions, and immune responses.
The important piece to recognize is that there are no protocols that can address the individuality of each case. Yes, protocols can have some affect for more general components of long COVID symptoms; however, when it comes to working with chronic conditions such a long COVID, we need to start looking at each person as an individual. What is their health history before they contracted this illness? What was already going on in their body when they became sick with COVID?
Most people don’t understand the complexity of how pre-existing dysfunctions (symptomatic or not) contribute to how viral infections such as COVID-19 plays out in their body. Many people were already hovering on the threshold of other health conditions and symptoms or may have had reoccurring conditions that were not adequately resolved.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with long COVID symptoms, it’s worth a call to discuss how we can help with recovery.