New to Osteopathy?
If you are new to osteopathy you may want to read below the answers to the questions most frequently put to osteopaths before a first treatment, including:
We have selected the exercises we most frequently advise our patients to do and turned them into short video clips.
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a clinical, non-medicated form of manual therapy, and involves the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of physical conditions. The osteopath is a registered clinician practicing under the regulating auspices of the General Osteopathic Council.
The outlook of the osteopath on human health is very distinctive: the human body is viewed as one integrated functional unit, where good alignment of the body’s “structure” - muscles, ligaments, articulations, nerves, arteries, veins… - will yield optimal “function” – body balance, flexibility, strength, resilience, good organ function, in a word: health! - not least because the body has its own wide-ranging, health-inducing mechanisms.
The osteopath tries to look beyond the “straw that broke the camel’s back” – i.e. the potentially innocuous trigger of the symptoms. Rather, s/he tries to understand the underlying causes of the patient’s condition (including bad postural, dietary or life habits), aiming not only at pain relief, but also at prevention of the re-occurrence of acute conditions, and the gradual recovery or stabilisation of more chronic disease.
To quote A.T. Still, the founder of osteopathy, “the apothecary lies within”, the key skill of the osteopath lies therefore in listening to the patient and his body, and working in partnership with the patient to eliminate pain and other presenting symptoms, and channel the patient back to enduring recovery and long-term health. The osteopath leans towards “chasing health” rather than “fighting disease”.
What do Osteopaths Treat?
Osteopathy can help alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of complaints including: neck and back pain, sciatica; joint pain and muscle strains; arthritic or rheumatic pain; sports injuries; work posture-induced stiffness and pain; RSI etc.
Equally, patients suffering from headaches, respiratory, circulatory or digestive complaints can derive great benefit from osteopathy.
How do Osteopaths Treat?
The osteopath will always begin by taking a case history involving the symptoms and circumstance of the patient’s main complaint, but also covering the longer-term health history. The osteopath will then conduct a detailed physical examination of the patient, including palpation (feeling through the fingers) of the body, active and passive body movement, and specific orthopaedic or clinical tests.
More often, once a “safe to treat” working diagnosis has been established and shared with the patient, osteopathic treatment proceeds and centres on focussed and controlled manual techniques including joint mobilisation and manipulation (realignment), and soft tissue (skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments) stretching and massage – all of these requiring active involvement of, and feedback from, the patient. Occasionally and with patient consent, an osteopath who has trained in modern acupuncture may also consider treatment with dry needling.
Tailored exercise, dietary and lifestyle advice is also often suggested and provided to hasten recovery and consolidate long-term health.
On some rare occasions, the osteopath may decide that additional clinical tests or a referral to another medical clinician may be required as a preliminary precaution before treatment. S/he may provide notes requesting this referral and/or explaining why s/he feels osteopathy cannot be of help in the first instance.
Is Treatment Painful?
We work hard to make treatment as comfortable as possible but you may experience discomfort during and after treatment. We will warn you if we feel the technique we are about to use will make you uncomfortable and will stop if you are feeling too much pain. Following treatment, about half the patients report a mild soreness in the area of the body that was treated. This will usually go way within 48 hrs. If you experience serious or unusual symptoms after treatment, you should contact us straight away and we will provide advice to further manage and reduce pain and discomfort.
How do I Get Referred to an Osteopath?
You don’t need a referral from your doctor to see an osteopath. Osteopaths are recognised by the NHS as fully qualified to diagnose and treat independently.
If you are seeking treatment funded by the NHS or a private healthcare insurer you may need to be referred by the relevant organisation first. Contact them to understand what forms of treatment are covered, and for how many sessions.