What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a well established and form of physical medicine that is regulated by law. It is holistic in approach and considers the importance of musculo-skeletal health. The aim of treatment, which is ‘hands on’, is to alleviate pain, restore function and prevent the recurrence of injury by helping the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Treatment is comfortable, safe and non-invasive and includes joint mobilisation and/or manipulation, soft tissue work, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, postural advice and exercise guidance.
In the UK, patients visiting an osteopath have the same rights as any patient visiting a doctor or dentist. The General Osteopathic Council regulates and develops the profession, maintaining a Statutory Register of those entitled to practice. Only practitioners meeting the academic criteria and the high standards of safety and competency are allowed to register. In addition, professional indemnity insurance cover is required for registration.
What does a consultation involve?
During your first visit, we spend time exploring your problem by asking questions about the onset, progression and nature and pattern of your symptoms. In addition, we take notes on your medical history, lifestyle, occupation and diet. Generally, loose clothing is sufficient and we may not require you to undress.
Following the case history, we examine the way your body moves by asking you to perform straightforward active movements (such as spinal or shoulder movements) that might be relevant to the assessment. We then carefully evaluate your mobility and range of movement by gently palpating the relevant joints and associated muscles as movement is passively introduced.
Based on the case history and examination findings, a diagnosis will be formulated and a treatment plan developed. These will be discussed with you and, if you are agreeable treatment will begin on your first visit. If for any reason osteopathic treatment is not appropriate, you will be referred to your doctor for further consultation.
Depending on your condition and with your consent, treatment may consist of one or more of the following approaches:
- Muscle resistance techniques to release muscle tension.
- Rhythmic articulation and joint manipulation to restore joint mobility.
- Massage and pumping to improve fluid dynamics and tissue health.
- Stretching to restore normal tissue length and structure.
- Acupuncture may also be used as an adjunct to osteopathic treatment.
You may also be given exercises to do at home, and, in some cases, advice may be given on posture and lifestyle considerations thought to be contributing to your condition. Osteopathy promotes your body’s ability to self-heal and the exercises and advice are an important part of this process.
Typically, we would expect to see considerable improvement within two to six treatments, although sometimes a single treatment is sufficient. However, your treatment plan is unique to you, and symptom resolution will depend on the nature of your condition and how you respond to treatment. You should feel free to ask questions about your diagnosis and treatment plan at any time.