What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a modern form of healthcare, involving highly skilled diagnosis and treatment. Osteopathy recognises the importance of the link between the structure of the human body and the way it functions. Osteopaths focus on the body's skeleton and joint function along with the underlying muscles, soft tissue and internal organs.
Treatment usually consists of a combination of soft-tissue releasing techniques, and some specific adjustments affecting joints and soft-tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments). Advice can also be given on self-help treatments and exercises to maintain the effectiveness of your treatments. Patients of all ages can benefit and the treatment is tailored to the individual. All osteopaths are registered with the General Osteopathic Council.
Is osteopathic treatment effective?
Yes, it is very effective due to the unique approach of osteopathic medicine. The osteopath can accurately assess the function of your body and identify the real cause of your condition. The osteopath can then recommend the most appropriate and effective treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
A normal course is from three to six treatments but this will vary depending on the diagnosis. At the initial consultation your osteopath will advise you on the number of treatments that he thinks will be necessary and will go through a recommended treatment plan. This will then be reassessed as treatment progresses.
How does osteopathy differ from physiotherapy and chiropractic?
Osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists are all regulated health professions, requiring practitioners to train to degree level, and then to maintain their clinical skills and professional standards. Whilst all three techniques involve manual therapy, they are all based on very different schools of thought and their approach to patients is different.
The body, as we all know, has the capability to repair itself, and osteopathy is based on this principle. As primary healthcare professionals, osteopaths have a broad base of training, allowing them to diagnose, treat and advise upon a wide range of conditions. An osteopath will work to help your body return to normal function, using techniques such as movement, stretching, manipulation or deep tissue massage to help achieve the best outcome.
An osteopath will work with all of the muscles, joints and structures of the body, including the spine. Osteopaths use gentle, focused manipulation techniques to mobilise the spine and other structures and will continuously examine your body monitoring changes throughout treatment. A chiropractor will tend to focus on the spinal joints alone and use a quite different method of manipulation which some people may find more forceful.
Osteopaths tend to use a more hands-on and individualised approach to assessing and treating patients compared to physiotherapists. Osteopaths will seek to understand their patient in the context of their lifestyle, firstly by taking a full case history, and then using a combination of skilled observation and palpation to feel how well the body, including the muscles and joints, is functioning. These all form an intrinsic part of developing a personalised treatment plan.
Some osteopaths specialise in many of the same areas as physiotherapists including breathing mechanics, rehabilitation and sports injuries.
Practitioners of all three disciplines vary in their treatment approaches and post qualification training, and may specialise in the treatment of specific patient groups or conditions. When seeking treatment you should discuss your symptoms and concerns with the practitioner, and be sure that their skills and treatment style will suit you.
Can I claim on my health insurance for my treatment?
Yes, Osteopathy in Action (OiA) is a recognised healthcare provider. However, we recommend contacting your health insurance company prior to starting treatment.
Do I need a GP referral?
No, you do not require a GP referral; you can refer yourself to see the osteopath. If you are claiming on private health insurance, your provider may require you to have a GP referral so you will need to check with them. Osteopathy in Action would, with your consent, liaise with your GP to inform them of your diagnosis and ongoing treatment.
Do you take x-rays?
The osteopath can normally make a diagnosis following a comprehensive clinical assessment. However, they may refer you for further tests such as an x-ray examination, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans. If your problems are due to recent accident or injury, the osteopath may request copies of the images that were undertaken at the time.
Does treatment hurt?
Treatment is tailored to each individual patient. Most patients are surprised at how gentle treatment is, although you may experience some mild discomfort following treatment. This rarely lasts more than 48 hours.
I am pregnant - can I still have treatment?
Yes, due to the changes and stresses that occur during pregnancy, back and pelvic pain is extremely common. Understandably many women do not want to take drugs for pain during this time. Osteopathic treatment provides both a safe and effective way of relieving pain and making sure your spine and pelvis are in the best possible condition to prepare for the birth. It can also help after the birth to make sure that the pelvis and spine have returned to normal.
My initial back pain seems to have nearly gone. Should I still come for treatment?
You do not have to be in a lot of pain on the day of treatment; it is better to consult an osteopath before back pain becomes severe. Most back pain is easier to treat in its early stages and it is important to realise that just because the pain has reduced it does not mean your back is functioning well. Remember, back pain is notorious for recurring at a later date even when doing minor activity. Make sure the real cause is addressed. It is also essential to minimise the risk of structural damage or arthritis that can be caused by cumulative uneven loading on weak areas of your spine.
I have been involved in a car accident, how long should I wait before starting treatment?
It is best to seek advice as soon as possible; usually an acute inflammatory response will last from two to four days depending on the severity, but gentle soft tissue techniques can be particularly good at reducing pain. Ideally treatment should start within 72 hours of the onset of pain to prevent the risk of developing a chronic condition. It is very important following a whiplash injury, no matter how minor, to have your spine properly assessed. Even if the pain settles very quickly, you may be left with changes in your neck or back which may cause problems months or even years after the car crash.
Do you mainly treat back problems?
Although back problems are the most common complaint, osteopaths can effectively treat a wide range of conditions including sports injuries, headaches, spine and muscle problems.The treatment page will provide further information.
Are all osteopaths properly qualified?
Osteopaths are statutorily regulated (The Osteopaths Act 1993) and follow clinical and ethical guidelines established by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). We are registered with the Institute of Osteopathy (iO) and the Osteopathic Sports Care Association (OSCA).
(Use of the title Osteopath is protected by law and restricted to those on the Osteopath's Register).
How can I pay?
Osteopathy in Action (OiA) accepts cash or 'chip and pin' on the day of your appointment.
Can I bring someone with me to my treatment session?
If you feel more comfortable having someone with you for support, please do so, whether it be a relative or a friend.