What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy was the first complementary therapy to be recognised as a regulated primary healthcare profession and consists of a modern, scientifically based system of diagnosis and treatment of faults that occur in the muscles and joints of the body.

These faults, as well as sometimes causing localised pain, can also have far reaching effects upon the well being of the whole body.

Other parts of the body can be affected by poor gait or altered posture and, or, in the case of spinal injuries, by disturbance to the normal supply of blood or nerve impulses.

Is it a new therapy?

No. The founder of osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor-Still, andrew taylor founder of osteopathy first developed his ideas in America in about 1876. Since that time continuing research and development of the original principles has led to an understanding of the human musculo-skeletal system which now means that Osteopathy is accepted as the treatment of choice in this field of medicine.

How does it work?

The modern Registered Osteopath uses his or her comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of the human body, dietary and environmental factors to treat the cause of the patient's complaint and not simply the symptoms. The patients own body is then in the best condition to recover.

Depending on the patient's condition, treatment methods may include therapeutic massage, gentle manipulation and stretching. Additionally, electrotherapy may be used to hasten recovery and exercises or dietary advice given to try to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

At some time in their lives most people will suffer from injuries to some part of their musculo-skeletal system.

A survey published in "Which" magazine showed that nearly 90% of patients claimed to have received considerable benefit from Osteopathic treatment.

This success has led to Osteopathy being the leading branch of complementary medicine today. Official recognition of this has recently taken the form of the Osteopath's Bill to establish a national register of practitioners.

It has been estimated that osteopathic care keeps 25,000 patients per day out of GP surgeries and hospitals.

Should I tell my Doctor?

Most modern Osteopaths do not see their treatment as an alternative to orthodox medicine but complementary to it.

As Osteopaths, we are not in conflict with Doctors but believe instead that we can work together for the benefit of the patient and are always willing to co-operate with your General Practitioner.

Although your osteopath can treat a wide range of conditions, not everything that goes wrong can be helped. Osteopaths are trained to recognise those conditions that need to be referred on and will not hesitate to recommend that the patient seek the advice of his or her G.P. or relevant Specialist when necessary.

An increasing number of Medical Doctors and Specialists are coming to appreciate the professional treatment that Registered Osteopaths offer and will happily refer their patients.

What will the Osteopath do?

On your first visit to an Osteopath he or she will ask you about your symptoms and how the complaint began. A full history of past problems and medical conditions will be required to gain an understanding of your current problem so don't be surprised if they want to know about more detail than just your current 'back ache'.

Next is a physical examination to find the cause of your symptoms. This involves establishing the exact area of any pain and testing for muscle weakness, abnormal joint function, or diminished reflexes. The Osteopath's specialised skills in palpation allow us to feel "what's going on under the skin".

Your Osteopath will send you for X-rays or blood tests only if necessary. Your G.P. may have already supplied results of these tests.

Will it hurt?

Formerly the term "osteopathic treatment" suggested the use of a high-speed manipulation, or 'click' to mobilise the spinal joints. Today the Osteopath has a wide range of techniques from which to choose and, while some conditions may require a direct manipulation, osteopathy nowadays tends towards gentler, more subtle techniques.

These safe procedures allow the modern Osteopath to treat a great variety of conditions successfully, ranging from postural problems found in growing children and pregnant women, to occupational stress, or injuries received during sporting and other activities. The pains caused by degenerative changes such as arthritis also often respond to more gentle techniques of treatment.

In general the treatment is seldom painful and, while some patients may be aware of slight discomfort following treatment, this is usually only a very temporary sign of the body adjusting itself to the changed circumstances.

How many treatments will I need?

The type and number of treatments required will vary according to the condition and the length of time that the condition has been present. Although accurate prediction may not be possible at your first visit, your osteopath will try to assess the prospects for recovery and will, if possible, adjust the treatment schedule to suit your circumstances.

The speed of your recovery will of course depend upon your age, general health and, very importantly, your full co-operation with any advice given to you.

Can I claim on my Insurance?

Many, but not all, companies that offer Health Insurance will pay for Osteopathic treatment.

Some require a referral letter from your G.P. or a relevant Specialist, such as an Orthopaedic Surgeon or Rheumatologist.

The attitudes of the various companies differ on individual policies. Most will not currently pay out to practitioners who have less than 5 years full-time experience.

Please check your policy details at the earliest opportunity.

How do I choose an Osteopath?

All practicing osteopaths MUST now be registered with the General Osteopathic Council and will have completed an approved course and be properly insured.

Members of the public can contact the GOsC on the web by visiting www.osteopathy.org.uk/ or by e-mail info@osteopathy.org.uk or phone 020 7357 6655

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