What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a system of manual healthcare that includes both diagnosis and treatment. One of the more simple ways of explaining it is that our bodies have the natural ability to maintain themselves (Homeostasis) and heal. Osteopaths promote this by identifying and removing the obstacles to our bodies own healing abilities. Allowing the body to self regulate without the need for medication.
Most people who see an osteopath do so for help with conditions that affect the muscles, bones and joints, such as:
– Lower back pain
– Neck pain
– Shoulder pain
– Dysfunction of pelvis, legs and hips
– Sports injuries
– Postural problems from work or pregnancy
Understanding the patient, and their unique combination of symptoms, medical history and lifestyle is key in Osteopathy. This helps to make an accurate diagnosis of the causes of the pain or dysfunction, and not just focussing on the symptoms. The first session usually includes taking a detailed case history of the patient.
Assessment involve active and passive examinations, as well as some special tests of various systems like the nervous system or cardiovascular system if appropriate.
Treatment can involve modalities such as soft tissue massage, joint manipulation (HVT or ‘adjustment’), joint articulation, MET (Muscle Energy Technique), cranio-sacral treatment, deep friction, visceral treatment, lymphatic drainage, active release, and fascial release.
In the UK, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries Osteopathy is a protected title, like being a physiotherapist or medical doctor. There is extensive training and examination to be fully qualified and registered as part of the regulatory body. I am registered with the UK GOsC (General Osteopathic Council) (registration number 9046).
What is an appointment like?
The initial appointment involves taking a detailed case history, and examination of the problematic region, as well as the whole body. After a diagnosis is formulated and explained to you – the next step is treatment (or referral). Treatment can be through a number of techniques and approaches, depending on the patient. Usually the first session is an hour – which gives plenty of time for treatment and history taking. Returning patients can usually be done is half that time.
Will if feel nice? Will it hurt?
There will always be a careful balance between managing ‘pain relief’ treatment and treating the ‘underlying causes’; this is referred to as balancing needs & wants. This is important because, for example, frequently people want their shoulders massaged – because it feels nice and their shoulders hurt – but the underlying cause of their shoulder pain might be somewhere else in their body, or even the way in which they are using their body. Balancing between making the shoulders feel nice, and fixing the root cause involves communication and understanding.
Treatment might always feel nice, or feel comfortable at the time – the the effect of the treatment is to promote health and wellbeing. Several techniques may (temporarily) aggravate some pain, in order to facilitate recovery. If this is the case, it will be explained to you and your permission will be asked.
How are Osteopaths trained?
In the UK, Osteopaths have to graduate a university degree in Osteopathy. Osteopathy is a protected title, by law, and to be allowed to call yourself an Osteopath in the UK you must qualify to be part of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).
Studying comprehensive medical knowledge (physiology, anatomy, psychology, sociology, research strategies and professional practice), osteopathic philosophy, osteopathic technique and physical examination – Osteopaths have to attain over 1000 hours of clinical practice before they can Graduate.