Osteopathy is a primary healthcare system, complementary to other medical practices. It is suitable for people of all ages and can contribute to alleviating an enormous range of conditions. Osteopathy recognises that much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in our body's structure and function and osteopaths diagnose and treat over 6 million people a year for problems with muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints to help the body's natural healing ability.
Osteopathic treatment involves gentle, manual techniques to ease pain, reduce swelling and improve mobility. Osteopathy does not involve the use of drugs or surgery.
The most common condition treated by osteopaths is low back pain, which affects two-thirds of the adult population of the UK and is the nation's leading cause of disability. Back pain is also very common in children and around 50% of children in Europe experience back pain at some time.
The trouble with back pain is that it can do more than just give you a pain in the back. It can create difficulties with walking, sitting, bending and lifting and can even lead to depression and incontinence. It can also be the cause of pain in the buttocks, groin or legs (commonly called sciatica), in the head, neck, shoulders and arms. It can also be one of the effects of hip, knee and foot problems.
Back pain can result from bad posture, a sudden jerky movement, a lumpy mattress or poor lifting techniques. It can also be caused by injury in a work place, by a sports accident or by muscular spasms. It often occurs during pregnancy or, because of decreased flexibility, as people get older.
During pregnancy, the body undergoes tremendous but normal physiological changes that can give rise to joint & muscle pain and osteopathic treatment can often bring relief.
There is an old song that goes "The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the leg bone… etc".
There is a lot of truth in this. The body is very interconnected and when one part is injured and out of balance, it can have a very wide-ranging effect. For example: over time, limping can create neck pain and headaches as various muscles and joints tighten to compensate for the uneven way of walking.
It can be more subtle than this. Tight muscles and joints can affect nerves and circulation. Internal organs or quite distant areas of the body can be affected by, for example, a problem in the back. For this reason osteopathy works to restore the whole body to balance. This is why, although you may consult an osteopath for a pain in your knee, they will still need to take a full medical history and examine your whole frame.
"The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone …"
Osteopathy can help with:
- Aches and Pains
- Arthritic Pain
- Back Pain
- Digestion Problems
- Fibromyalgia (Fibrositis)
- Frozen Shoulder
- Inability to Relax
- Joint Pain
- Minor Circulatory Problems
- Minor Sports Injuries
- Muscle Spasms
- Muscle Tension
- Neuralgia (Nerve Pain)
- Rheumatic Pain
The above list is by no means exhaustive, so if you are not sure whether osteopathy can benefit your condition please call the practice to find out.
Please note that there are a number of conditions where it is important that you seek advice from your General Practitioner (GP). Your osteopath is trained to recognise these conditions and their symptoms, and would refer you to your GP where appropriate.
What to expect
Initially, the osteopath will take a full medical history, and will examine you using diagnostic procedures similar to those of conventional medicine. You may be asked to remove some of your outer clothing so that your body posture and mobility can be assessed - you will be asked to perform a series of simple movements to help the osteopath identify areas of strain, weakness or injury. Your osteopath will discuss the diagnosis with you and will propose a treatment plan.
The length of the treatment will depend upon your needs. The first consultation will typically take 45 minutes to 1 hour and subsequent visits 20 to 30 minutes.
Under the Osteopaths Act 1993, it is a criminal offence for anyone to practice as an osteopath unless registered with the General Osteopathic Council. The public can, therefore, be confident in visiting an osteopath that they will experience safe and competent treatment from a practitioner who adheres to a strict Code of Conduct.
Trainee osteopaths study anatomy, physiology, pathology, biomechanics and clinical methods during a four or five year honours degree programme. Such wide-ranging medical training gives osteopaths the skills to diagnose conditions to determine where osteopathic treatment is appropriate, and where the patient should be referred to a GP for further investigation.
Further Information Sources
Osteopathy App for your Phone
The British Osteopathic Association (BOA) has created an application for iPhone or Android phone that provides useful information about osteopathy, what we treat, who we treat, details of registered osteopaths in your area, and some simple exercise videos. Click on the link below for your iPhone or Android phone.