Osteopathy is a manual therapy that focuses on healing the body’s structural integrity.
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What is Osteopathy?
Around 50,000 people visit an osteopath each week. Osteopathy is a hands on approach to musculoskeletal pain. Osteopathy is unique in recognising that much of the pain and disability we suffer can stem from abnormalities in the function of the body structure. This may be from either current or previous injuries, or from damage caused by disease.
Osteopaths focus on how your skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves and circulation work together to improve your health and wellbeing. An osteopath uses many of the diagnostic procedures of conventional medicine to find the root cause of the problem. Osteopathy’s main strength is the way in which the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint, and the specific treatment applied to each individual.
How it works
Osteopathy sees the body as an inter-relationship of parts which, when disturbed, can cause pain. Osteopaths use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify areas of weakness, strain and dysfunction in the body. As osteopathy is a manual therapy, physical techniques like massage, stretching, joint articulation and manipulation are used to rebalance and support the body to harness its capacity for self-repair.
People consult osteopaths for the following conditions
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Postural fatigue from desk and office work and other occupational strain injuries
- Sporting injuries
- General joint pain (including all joints of the body: shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles)
- Tendinitis and repetitive strain injury
- Face, jaw and head pain from dental work
- Conditions related to women’s health, pregnancy and childbirth
- Pre and post surgery
What to expect at your first appointment
A thorough health history will be taken and you will be asked about your presenting complaint. The osteopath will examine your standing posture, taking you through some gentle movements, and possibly use special tests to determine the cause of your symptoms. They will then explain your diagnosis and treatment plan, especially tailored to you.
Treatment often involves specific massage or stretching of soft tissues (e.g. muscles, tendons and ligaments) and gentle mobilisation of joints, to improve movement and promote healing. Some of the more subtle cranial osteopathic techniques may also be used. Your osteopath may advise on exercise, posture, diet, hot/cold and may suggest modifying your activities to increase the treatment’s short- and long-term effectiveness. Most osteopathic treatment is gentle and should not cause undue discomfort. If your injuries do require hands-on treatment of painful and tender areas, your osteopath takes care to make you as comfortable as possible.
The osteopath will usually treat you on your first appointment. However, they may refer you to another medical specialist or complementary practitioner, if necessary. Due to the nature of initial consultations, you can expect more hands-on treatment on subsequent visits.
Depending on the area of your body requiring treatment, your osteopath may ask you to undress down to your underwear. It’s important that you feel comfortable, so you may want to wear or bring loose pants or shorts.
How long does it take to treat a condition?
Sometimes it is difficult to accurately gauge the time it will take someone to get better. Some patients start to notice differences straight after the first treatment. Others, depending on their condition, may need 3 to 6 treatments before they start feeling a change. However, at each consultation, your case is reviewed to make sure you’re getting the best course of treatment.