Osteopathy FAQs

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a form of alternative medicine which uses gentle, non-painful techniques such as mobilisation of joints, manipulations, soft-tissue work, articulation, stretching and other osteopathic techniques to treat the patient as a whole. 

Osteopaths use a refined sense of touch assess, diagnose and treat their patients. They believe all systems are inter-related and aim at restoring health by tapping into the body’s self-healing abilities. 

Osteopathy supports proper function of muscles and joints but also affects the nervous, immune, respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive functions and can relieve the symptoms associated with many health issues.

Osteopaths take time to listen and understand their patients and recognise that everyone is unique. Their treatment is therefore individualised, based on a variety of factors such as nature of the problem, age, lifestyle, medical history and patient’s preferences for treatment

What can I expect on my first appointment?

Your Consultation:

As an osteopath, I will treat you as a healthcare professional who is specifically trained in diagnosing health issues. At the start of your first appointment, I will conduct an interview and ask you questions about your medical history and lifestyle, as well as any symptoms you may be experiencing. This is very important as it will help me to make an accurate diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment.

I will write down what you tell me in your records. These will be treated as confidential in accordance with standards of practice .

I will need to examine the area(s) of your body causing discomfort. Sometimes the cause of the problem may be in a different area to the pain, (For example, pain in your lower arm may be linked to the nerves in your neck) so I may need to examine your whole body. I will need to feel for any tightness in the muscles and stiffness in the joints and may need to touch these areas to identify problems. I will explain what I am doing as I go along.

If you are uncomfortable with any part of this, you can always ask me to stop at any stage. Communication between patient and practioner is key in the therapeutic relationship.

What to wear:

I will want you to feel at ease, therefore if you feel uncomfortable undressing to your underwear, you can bring shorts and a t-shirt, or close-fitting garments, that will enable me to work effectively.

I will make a diagnosis and discuss a course of treatment with you. This may involve further visits for manual therapy – a range of gentle hands on techniques that focus on releasing tension, stretching muscles and mobilising joints. Together with exercises that you can do at home and helpful advice designed to help you relieve or manage your pain, keep active and maintain the best of health. 

Most of the time, I will begin your treatment at your first appointment, but sometimes I may require further tests first i.e. blood tests or scans. Occasionally I may diagnose an illness that I am unable to treat and may refer you to your General Practitioner or another appropriate health care professional.

Is osteopathic treatment painful?

Osteopathic treatment is usually a very gentle process and osteopaths work very hard to make treatment as painless as possible, but you may experience some discomfort during and after treatment. I will always warn you if I think that the technique that I am about to use is likely to be uncomfortable and will stop if you tell me that you are feeling too much pain.

Following treatment you may experience some mild soreness in the area of the body that was treated, this will normally will go away within 48 hours. If you experience serious or unusual symptoms after treatment you should contact me straight away for advice.

What can osteopathy treat?

Osteopathy has been found to be an effective form of treatment to relieve the symptoms associated with:

Arthritis, back pain, foot and ankle pain, hand and elbow pain, headaches, hip pain, knee pain, neck pain, osteoporosis, sciatica, shoulder pain, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.

Osteopathy can also relieve the symptoms associated with conditions such as: Asthma, Digestive issues, Diabetes, 

Who is osteopathy for?

Osteopaths are commonly known for treating back pain and postural problems including changes due to pregnancy, caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and minor sports injuries.

Osteopathic patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people.

What is the difference between osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropracty?

Osteopaths, Chiropractors and physiotherapists. What’s the difference? This is one of my most frequently asked questions and although there are some practitioners in each discipline that may overlap, a good practitioner will have lots of “tools” in their “tool box” to treat you. I’ve tried to give a balanced overview below :

  • Osteopaths use touch, articulation, mobilisation, manipulation, stretching and other osteopathic techniques to treat you. They aim to restore balance to the joints, soft tissues and the other systems in the body such as the circulatory, respiratory, neurological and immune systems as they believe all systems are interrelated to improve the overall structure and function to restore health and promote healing. They can also provide exercises, stretching and rehab advice. .
  • Chiropractors apply specific manipulative adjustments to areas of the spine and other areas in the body. They use other diagnostic tools such as x-rays to aid a diagnosis and they can also give exercises and rehab advice. .
  • Physiotherapists work in both a private and NHS setting. They work in a broad range of rehabilitation areas from stroke to musculoskeletal rehab and use prescriptive exercises, articulation and soft tissue work to help people recover. .

According to Backcare.org.uk 50% of patients seeing an osteopath will receive an adjustment (“cracking” a joint) whereas 90% of patients seeing a chiropractor will receive one.

Remember there is a lot of overlap between the three professions and some practitioners encompass aspects from each profession and to go in-depth would make for a very long post! .

It’s purely a matter of personal preference when seeking treatment at the end of the day. Make sure that the practitioner you are seeing is registered with their regulatory body.