What do Osteopaths do?
Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine. The mainstay of treatment is through direct ‘hands on’ contact. Firstly we listen carefully to your reasons for coming to us, which is often, but not always for pain relief. We ask questions about your past medical history, and your daily life to help us understand the impact that your complaint has on your life, how it may have come about, and how our treatment may affect you. Sometimes we may refer you to your GP or another specialist if we feel we can’t treat you safely or without more information such as imaging or blood tests.
Physical ailments often reflect ‘dis’ease in other aspects of our person and our state of mind can strongly affect how we perceive pain and disability so this needs to be taken into account so that we can adjust the intensity of the treatment accordingly. Often we will teach you breathing techniques, show you exercises or talk about nutrition to support your healing.
What will happen in the treatment?
After listening carefully to your medical history and your complaint, and asking some questions, if we have established that osteopathic treatment is appropriate for you, most osteopaths then ask you to undress to your underwear or a layer of tight-fitting but stretchy clothing. This allows us to get a good picture of your posture and as you perform some movements, how your musculoskeletal system responds.
We will then use our hands to feel how joints are moving and how your body tissues feel- we look for things like swelling, redness, bruising and tense muscles and the range of movement available at various joints. This shouldn’t be painful although often it is necessary to briefly reproduce the pain you may be complaining of in order to confirm exactly where it is coming from.
Sometimes we listen to your lungs and heart, check your blood pressure, check your nerve reactions (by tapping various points on your body) and your muscle strength. None of these tests are invasive although occasionally some nerve tests may be uncomfortable if your nerves are already irritated.
The treatment offered by osteopaths varies from High Velocity, Low Amplitude thrusts (HVLA) (which often produces a click or popping sound), soft tissue massage, long leverage stretches or rotations (using your limbs) to very gentle adjustment of cranial bone motion (cranial osteopathy), and abdominal and pelvic organ motility and mobility (visceral osteopathy). Some osteopaths use ice, heat, exercise and dryneedling too. Most osteopaths will also advise on posture, diet and breathing.
Treatment should be gentle and relaxing and we try to ensure that you are comfortable with the treatment at all times. Sometimes you may need to give written consent to treatment if your problem is in an ‘intimate area’ (around breasts or pelvic area) and you are entitled to ask for a chaperone.
What should I bring and wear?
It is helpful for us if you bring a list of any medication to are taking and the results of recent tests or imaging (MRI or XRAY reports).
Wear comfortable, stretchy or loose fitting clothing such as leggings, sports shorts, vests. Jeans are particularly difficult to palpate through as they are generally quite stiff and have bulky seams.
Your diary/ phone if you need to make another appointment and payment method (cash, card, cheque)
How will I feel afterwards?
After treatment you can feel very tired and occasionally a little tender for a couple of days. We will have given you some advice regarding any tenderness you feel- e.g. sometimes ice is better than a hot water bottle to help reduce tenderness.
Who is osteopathy suitable for?
Osteopathy can help people of all ages from newborn babies and pregnant mothers, children and stressed businesspeople, homemakers and students to the elderly. We will use techniques appropriate to your body.