Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.
To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance. Osteopaths use a touch (palpation), physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.
Osteopathy is a regulated profession; all osteopaths in the UK are registered with the General Osteopathic Council and abide by their professional standards.
Osteopathic treatment, London, 2019© Trevor England
Bridge, Cowley, 2019 ©Trevor England
Who do Osteopaths treat?
Osteopaths’ patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people.
The Advertising Standards Agency and the Committee of Advertising Practice currently accepts that there is enough evidence to show that osteopaths can claim to treat:
Frozen shoulder/ shoulder and elbow pain/ tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
Joint pains including age related (including osteoarthritis)
General, acute & chronic backache, back pain
Generalised aches and pains
Minor sports injuries
Pregnancy related problems, aches and pains
Tension and inability to relax
Uncomplicated mechanical neck pain
What to expect
Your first visit will involve the osteopath taking a thorough case history, asking questions about your presenting complaint and your general health. After this a physical examination is performed to help identify what is causing your pain and possible linking factors such as posture. This will follow with an osteopathic treatment which can involve a variety of techniques which will move your joints. Finally you will be prescribed exercises to support your complaint.
Depending on your presenting complaint your osteopathic treatment may include the following approaches:
Soft tissue manipulation
Spinal or joint manipulation (HVT or HVLA, can make a 'clicking' sound)
Neuromuscular Techniques (NMT's)
Muscle Energy Techniques (MET's)
Osteopathy in the Cranial Field (cranio-sacral osteopathy)
Subsequent visits are shorter and involve a brief catch up about how your complaint has changed since the previous session, with a majority of the time focused on treatment. If new symptoms have arisen then it may be necessary to perform further assessments prior to treatment.
General Osteopathic Council. 2019. About Osteopathy. General Osteopathic Council [online]. Available at< https://www.osteopathy.org.uk/visiting-an-osteopath/about-osteopathy/ >[Accessed 31 July 2019].