What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a statutorily regulated primary health care profession. It is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the body and the effects of these disorders on the function of the body and general health.

Common physical problems treated with Osteopathy include:

  • Muscle, Ligament & Joint Pain
  • Back and Neck problems
  • Sciatica
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder Problems
  • Arthritic Pain
  • Foot, Leg, Hip & Arm Pain
  • Sports related Injuries
  • Pelvic Pain

Osteopathy recognizes the importance of the link between the structure of the human body and the way it functions. Osteopaths focus on the body’s skeleton, joint mobility and on the underlying muscles and soft tissues. The aim of Osteopathic treatment is to restore these structures to a state of balance and harmony, so providing optimum conditions for physical recovery.

To explain this more fully; the primary mechanical structures of the body consist of the bones, joints, overlying muscles and soft tissues. Good mechanical function of these tissues is vital to good physical health. Problems in these mechanical areas can have additional implications for homeostasis and tissue health in and around the affected areas. This may result in imbalances in the optimum function of the somatic tissues, leading to prolonged or incomplete tissue recovery from an injury, with broader implications for general health, fitness and consequently, well being as a whole.

With this in mind, Osteopaths consider each person as an Individual and treat the person as ‘a whole’, rather than treating isolated symptoms. Utilizing their highly developed sense of touch, Osteopaths identify problem areas of the body. Using gentle stretching and mobilizing techniques as well as articulating joints, they work with the body to create the perfect conditions to facilitate the healing process.

The effectiveness of Osteopathy in treating back problems and pain has recently been recognized and backed by NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, after many years studying patient response to Osteopathic treatment. Current NICE guidelines recommend the referral of patients suffering with back pain to an Osteopath for treatment. NICE specializes in giving guidance on evidence-based medicine and treatment methodologies.

What will an Osteopathy consultation involve?

A first consultation generally will last for about 45–60 minutes. Your Osteopath needs to know about your health, past and present and you will be asked detailed questions about your complaint, medical history, general health and any medication you may be taking. Follow-up consultations are normally 30 minutes in duration, as over 80% of the time is spent on treatment.

The Osteopath will carry out a careful physical examination sometimes incorporating medical equipment to help with the diagnosis.

Your Osteopath will normally ask you to remove some of your clothing and perform a simple series of movements. The Osteopath will use touch to identify points of weakness, pain or excessive strain in your body. You will usually be treated whilst lying on a treatment couch.

Osteopaths usually start any treatment by releasing and relaxing muscles and stretching stiff joints, using gentle massage techniques, rhythmic joint movements and muscle release techniques. They may also carry out spinal manipulations. These are short, quick movements to joints in order to help restore normal joint function and mobility.

The number of treatments needed will depend on your condition. If you have chronic low back pain for example, you may need several treatments. For acute pain, one or two treatments may be enough.

Following treatment, patients can experience a number of responses from feeling pleasantly tired or elated to being a little stiff and sore for a couple of days but feeling better in themselves. Often, patients experience a significant reduction in symptoms within their first three treatments, and sometimes within just 48 hours after treatment.


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