What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a primary healthcare profession that was created by Andrew Taylor Still in the USA in the late 1800s. It now mainly specialises in the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of neuromusculoskeletal conditions (bones, joints, muscles and nerves) but was, and still is, often used for other related disorders of general health.
Osteopathy has a patient-centred approach and works with the body’s natural self-repairing qualities. So, rather than simply focusing on the diagnosed condition, the osteopath looks at the pertinent causes that may lie within the patient them-self, and as each patient is different, each problem may need a slightly different approach for optimal results.
Osteopathic assessment and treatment is carried out using a large range of hands-on, manual osteopathic techniques.
What treatment techniques will you use?
A broad range of manual techniques can be used, the choice of which will depend on different factors. This may be the problem itself, other medical or health considerations or on the particular preference of the patient.
Direct structural techniques may involve:
• Joint mobilisation and manipulation
• Deep tissue massage
These techniques are usually more noticeable than the gentle indirect techniques such as:
• Functional osteopathy
• Cranial osteopathy
It is important to understand that stronger techniques are not necessarily more effective than gentle techniques and that the osteopathic treatment you receive will be the one to help achieve the best outcome for you.
During treatment your osteopath will continuously re-examine your body to monitor changes throughout treatment until the desired effect is reached. They will explain what they are doing and will always ask your consent to examine and treat you. Ask questions at any time, if you are unsure of what you have been told or if you have any concerns.
What training and qualifications do osteopaths have?
Training is to degree level over a period of 4 years full time or five years part-time. It includes 2 years clinical practice with senior osteopathic mentoring and is now recognised as a master’s level degree. All osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council, and so must be fully qualified, fully insured and meet a set criteria of continuing professional development every year.
How does it work?
Osteopaths use manual manipulative techniques to improve the body’s posture and movement. This may involve rebalancing tensions where imbalance is present, realigning to diminish or improve asymmetry and also improving joint movement where restrictions are present. Osteopaths have found that by making improvements to the body in this way, the patient’s body heals quicker due to effects such as diminished physical stresses within the body and improved blood flow.
Osteopathy comes from an era of more primitive medical technology, without refined surgical procedures, antibiotics or other lifesaving medication. It offers a natural approach to promoting health rather than focusing on the curing disease, and is therefore subtler than orthodox medicine. It is perhaps more similar in approach to nutritional therapy, in that the body’s health is the focus and optimised rather than necessarily treating ill-health when it manifests.
Even though the maxim that osteopathy is a medicine in itself still holds true, nowadays osteopathy is normally perceived as a method for treating low back pain. However, osteopathy has become an increasingly popular choice for all types of neuromusculoskeletal conditions such as joint or muscle strains and ‘trapped nerves’.
Does it work?
These manual techniques have been used for nearly 150 years and are growing in preference as an effective treatment method for a variety of conditions, so much so that osteopathic techniques are often taught as post-graduate training for other manual therapists such as physiotherapists. It is difficult to create an exhaustive list, but some common treatable conditions are:
Minor sports injuries and tensions
• Joint pains including shoulder, elbow, hip and knee pain
• Acute & chronic backache, lumbago
• Mechanical neck pain
• Headache or migraine arising from the neck
• Muscle spasms
• Generalised aches & pains
• Arthritic & rheumatic pain
• Circulatory problems
• Digestion problems
• Inability to relax
What is Cranial osteopathy?
Cranial osteopathy is just one of a large range of techniques used by osteopaths. We use it for treating patients with musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal symptoms. Osteopaths may place their hands over your head or your sacrum but also may place their hands over other areas of the body during tissue palpation.
Do you just ‘crack backs’?
No we don’t. Despite a common view that osteopaths crack necks or only treat spines isn’t true. Osteopaths treat the whole body and often need to treat part of the body away from the injury site to give a complete treatment.
We will also look at various a other factors which might be having an affect on your problem, such as lifestyle, occupation and recreational activities/stresses.
How many treatments will I need?
This is very dependent on your individual problem. Often, adequate changes to stop your pain may be made relatively quickly. With minor acute strains, this may occur within the first treatment or two.More severe injuries such as ligament or disc injuries will normally take two to three months to resolve.
If you suffer with persistent postural problems or chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis you are advised to have maintenance treatments such as you would with dental check-ups. You would also be given exercise routines to follow to help manage your condition, just like brushing your teeth morning and night. It is often remarkable what difference small adjustments can make to large problems.
Your specific requirements will be assessed in your first appointment and you will be encouraged to discuss your treatment plan with me.
Will treatment hurt?
If you are already in pain sometimes treatment can improve this quite quickly. However, if your muscles are tight or your joints and nerves affected you may feel some temporary discomfort. This should be short-lived and you can always tell your osteopath how you are feeling during your treatment.
Due to the physical nature of the treatment, it is not unusual to sometimes feel sore or stiff in the first 24–48 hours after treatment. Your osteopath will explain any likely reactions that you could expect. If you have any concerns, it is important to contact the osteopath and ask their advice.
Do I have a say in what treatment I receive?
Yes. It’s important to us that you share your journey on the road to recovery, by being involved in your treatment and the advice offered. This will also include following exercises and changes to the everyday that will in turn help you return to the form you once were and function properly.
I’m pregnant, can I still see an osteopath?
Yes you can and you may find this extremely beneficial as your body changes throughout your pregnancy. We can help alleviate pregnancy related pain, such as pubis symphysis disorder or back pain and suggest ways to improve your posture.
Do you treat sports injuries?
Yes. Osteopathic manipulation is well suited to treating sports injuries, and indeed many physiotherapists are adopting these osteopathic techniques in their treatment.
Do you treat babies and children?
Yes. Treatment is gentle and safe for children. We have a wealth of experience in treating children of all ages and some with very complex problems.
I have low back pain, can you help?
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends manual therapy such as osteopathy as a treatment option for low back pain.
I’ve had back surgery, can you still treat me?
Yes, I treat many people who have had spinal surgery. Often patients who have required spinal surgery will still have problems with spinal stiffness and achiness and these people often respond very well to osteopathy.
Do I need a referral from my GP?
No. Most patients refer themselves directly to an osteopath, although sometimes GP’s do refer to us. Although referral by a GP is not necessary, you are encouraged to keep your GP fully informed, so that your medical records are up to date. This will ensure you receive the best possible care from both health professionals. With your permission, your osteopath may send a report to your GP, with details of your condition and treatment. You can also request a letter for your employer, if this is helpful.
Will I have to remove clothing down to my underwear?
No. However, I may suggest removing outerwear like a jumper or cardigan, or a belt, to enable assessment or treatment.
What should I wear?
Wear loose fitting clothing so that you can benefit from a full diagnosis and treatment, where you will be asked to move around. Don’t wear tight jeans if you have a knee injury!
Can I bring someone with me?
Yes of course. Children under 18 years should always be chaperoned. If this is your first appointment with an osteopath, then I’d encourage you to bring a long a friend or family member to make your experience more relaxed.
What’s the difference between an osteopath, chiropractor and physiotherapist?
These professions all seek to improve a patients wellbeing via diagnosis and manual treatment therapies. Each have their recognised specialties and you may feel that one suits you more than the other. If you have found that you haven’t got the results you were hoping for from one of these professionals, then please call us and we will listen to your concerns and try to help you find the solution you are wanting.
How much does each treatment cost?
Please see our fees here
How can I pay?
Cash, cheque or BACS
Can I use my health insurance?
Yes. With the exception of BUPA we are recognised by most private health insurers. Please check that osteopathy is covered by your policy or call us if you have any queries.
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