Osteopathy is a method of evaluating, examining and treating people with a wide range of health problems. Osteopaths use a combination of mobilising, stretching, targeted deep tissue massage and manipulation of a person’s muscles and joints to improve function, relieve pain and aid recovery.
The body has the natural ability to maintain and repair itself, an osteopath will try and work with the body to aid this process promote restoration of normal function. The principle of osteopathy is that the body is a unit and therefore how one part functions effects all other systems therefore the wellbeing of an individual relies on the way that bones, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and internal structures work with each other.
An osteopath will take the time to understand their patient, and their unique combination of symptoms, medical history and lifestyle. This helps to make an accurate diagnosis of the causes of the pain or lack of function (rather than just addressing the site of the condition), and from that, to formulate a treatment plan that will achieve the best outcome.
Osteopathy works well and may complement other medical interventions including physical therapy, surgery and prescribed medication.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that GPs can safely refer patients to an osteopath for treatment. Osteopathy is available on the NHS in some areas of the UK however there are no restrictions regarding who can see an osteopath, you don’t need a GP referral and we treat everyone – children and adults.
Osteopathy may help you with:
Muscle and Joint Pain
Back Pain and Sciatica
Neck, Shoulder and Arm Pain
Hip, Knee and Ankle Pain
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Some types of headaches
Pain Management and Injury Rehab
There are many different reasons why people are in pain and each person has a different way of responding to it. As a general rule acute conditions tend to respond to change relatively quickly, with more chronic conditions taking a little longer to resolve. It is the policy of this practice that if you do not respond to your treatment we will discuss other alternatives and try to find an approach that may be more suitable for you, or refer you for further tests or investigations if appropriate.
When visiting an osteopath please expect to be asked detailed questions about the history of your current complaint, your past medical history, family history, and your current lifestyle. Some of the questions asked may initially appear irrelevant but they are vital in providing a full picture of all the factors underlying your complaint. This allows the osteopath to formulate some ideas regarding the possible cause(s) of your complaint. These ideas are then tested by a physical examination (which may require you to undress to underwear or suitable shorts or leggings) where your posture, mobility and musculoskeletal function will be evaluated.
In addition, a number of further special tests relevant to your condition may be conducted on site. Once the examination is complete the osteopath will either be able to reach a diagnosis, or in a small number of cases, refer you for further tests or investigations to complete the picture (e.g. blood tests, x-rays, scans). Occasionally, the osteopath may ask you to complete a diet diary or symptom diary before attending the next session. The diagnosis is explained to you and treatment commences with your consent.
If you have been asked to return for a follow up appointment your osteopath will have explained the importance of doing so to achieve a particular outcome. Patients are allotted approximately 60 minutes for their first appointment and approximately 40 minutes for any follow up appointments. Allotted times are not fixed and your osteopath may spend more or less time during your appointment. Time spent on treatment is dependent on the complexity of the problem or how much can be achieved on each visit. Time is also required for providing exercises and advice.
There are many different reasons why people are in pain and each person has a different way of responding to it. As a general rule acute conditions tend to respond to change relatively quickly, with more chronic conditions taking a little longer to resolve. A typical number of visits would be in the region 2-6, unless long term treatment of a chronic condition is necessary. It is the policy of this practice that if you do not respond to your treatment we will discuss other alternatives and try to find an approach that may be more suitable for you, or refer you for further tests or investigations if appropriate.
Our Osteopaths are registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). Osteopaths are required to renew their registration every year and the GOsC provides our licence to practice. As part of this process the GOsC checks that osteopaths have current professional indemnity insurance, remain in good health and of good character, and have met mandatory continuing professional development requirements. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC.
If you use an Osteopath that doesn't adhere to this standard of practice you can complain to the GOsC, regulation aims to protect patient safety.
Medico legally we are obliged to advise you of any usual and associated serious adverse effects associated with treatment, however rare. Osteopathy is generally regarded as a safe treatment, although you may experience minor side effects, such as:
- mild to moderate soreness or pain in the treatment area
These effects usually develop within a few hours of a session, are not dissimilar to how you can feel after exercising and typically get better on their own within 1 or 2 days.
Specifically with regard to manipulations of the neck, there is a very rare risk of serious damage to the neck arteries and possible stroke. However, it is important to note that no one study has shown osteopathic manipulation to be directly causative, and also that a variety of studies have shown neck movements generally may create this same risk, (Looking up whilst decorating or gardening for long periods and visiting the hairdresser, for example, may all heighten risk).
Although there are difficulties in estimating any risk, studies indicate that this risk certainly appears to be very low and has been estimated to be anywhere from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 6 million. This is a very low risk and needs to be placed in the context of the risk from everyday activities. Of further interest is that previous research has indicated that the arteries in the neck do not appear to undergo any more strain in manipulative treatment than they do in normal everyday neck movements.
Osteopaths are trained to minimise this risk still further by conducting a thorough case history and examination in order to identify any warning signs of increased vulnerability. It has to be remembered that millions of neck manipulations are carried out every year by highly trained osteopaths with the main outcome being improvement in pain levels and mobility.
Neck manipulation will not be recommended if there is any doubt as to the suitability or safety of the technique in your particular case and therefore treatment will only be carried with your full, and informed consent. Although we are experts in the application of focused and specific techniques you are free to express your own preference from the choice of technique available. Osteopathy is more than just spinal manipulation.
If you would like to discuss these issues further please email us for more information.
“Osteopathy is a philosophy of healthcare that acknowledges that the living body is a self-renewing, self-regenerating, self-recuperating system which maintains health constantly throughout life. Whenever that health-maintaining system is compromised, symptoms or disease could develop. Osteopathy is concerned with that which has compromised health rather than the resulting condition.
“Osteopaths have been regulated by statute since 1993. They are trained to diagnose conventionally and also to use their hands to assess body function and dysfunction. This gives the osteopath uniquely sensitive information about the disability within the body and how this insight might be used to help restore health.
“Although people commonly describe their symptoms in terms of conventional medical conditions, osteopaths do not primarily treat medical conditions; they are more concerned with the cascade of events which could have contributed to the development of those medical conditions.”
— Osteopathic Alliance
Osteopaths complete a 4- or 5-year honours degree programme (bachelor's or master's), which involves at least 1,000 hours of clinical training. Some osteopaths are qualified to PhD level.