Osteopathy

Carolyn Norgate with patient at the Osteopathy Clinic

WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY
WHY WOULD YOU VISIT AN OSTEOPATH?
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU VISIT AN OSTEOPATH?
WHAT DOES TREATMENT INVOLVE?
HOW LONG IS A TREATMENT SESSION?
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
WILL I HAVE TO STOP WORK/GOLF/GARDENING/DRIVING....?
WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN TREATMENTS?

WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY

Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and treatment that lays its main emphasis on the structural integrity of the body It is distinctive in the fact that it recognises much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage cause to it by diseases.

Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures involved in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. Its main strength, however , lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit the needs of the individual patient.


WHY WOULD YOU VISIT AN OSTEOPATH?

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Usually when you have a pain that stops you moving normally, or if a movement becomes difficult.
An osteopath treats conditions relating to the muscles and joints.
These include:

Many people develop pains or find certain movements difficult for no apparent reason. An osteopath , like a detective, is trained to look for clues to establish the causes of the problem.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU VISIT AN OSTEOPATH?

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Taking a History

You will need to give as many details of your symptoms as possible and the osteopath will want to know exactly when and how they started, how they have developed since and what treatment, if any, you may have received.
You will also be asked about any accidents, falls or surgery as these may have contributed to your present symptoms. You may think an old fall has no bearing on your problem, but the osteopath may make a connection.
It is important to mention any medical conditions as well as any medication you may be taking. The osteopath has to take these into account when deciding on a treatment plan.

Physical Examination

The osteopath will need to see if any movements give you pain or are restricted.
The way you stand and sit will give an indication of areas of strain in the body and any misalignments.
You may be asked to remove some clothing so that the osteopath can better see and feel where there is muscle tension or swelling or imbalances in the body.

Treatment

All this while the osteopath will have been deciding on the best course of treatment for you - and if indeed osteopathy is the most suitable or advisable approach to your condition.
Even during treatment the osteopath will be asking further questions in order to confirm or to rule out certain possibilities.
You may be advised to visit your general practitioner if tests are needed.

WHAT DOES TREATMENT INVOLVE?

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Osteopaths are trained in the use of a wide range of techniques.
These are designed to release muscle spasm and stretch soft tissue, mobilize joints and relieve pressure on nerves.
There are also techniques which work on the subtle rhythms of the body and which encourage balance and tissue release and allow the body's own healing capacity to take over.

Deep tissue massage, resisted stretches, controlled adjustments to joints are used with care and modified according to the patient's basic vitality and level of health and the severity of the symptoms.

Some discomfort may be experienced at times but the osteopath will always ask for, and respond to, feedback.
The aim of treatment is to reduce pain and/or increase mobility. Side benefits may include a better sleep pattern, less tension, fewer headaches, more energy etc..

HOW LONG IS A TREATMENT SESSION?

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The first consultation may take an hour, depending on how involved your history is.
Subsequent treatments will take 45 minutes.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?

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Chronic conditions


The longer the problem has been developing, the longer it will take to unravel.
This is because the body develops so-called compensations which are its way of coping and taking the pressure off the original injury. These compensations are like layers of an onion and each one has to be dealt with.
For example, a recent back pain may be the long-term result of an untreated ankle sprain way in the past. A bad fall on the base of the spine may result in headaches a few years down the line.
For these reasons, two or three treatments may be needed before some improvement or change is seen.

Once there is a significant improvement it is usually wise to have a break from treatment to let the body settle and adapt to the changes. Your osteopath will judge how long to wait.

Acute Conditions

Sometimes symptoms relate directly to a recent incident and there is no previous history of pain or disability. In this case you may only need two treatments - the second just to make sure all is healing well.
This most often applies to younger patients, but not necessarily. Some older people have a better level of fitness than some teenagers.

WILL I HAVE TO STOP WORK/GOLF/GARDENING/DRIVING....?

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The idea of treatment is to get you back working and playing as soon and as safely as possible. You will probably have to modify your way of doing things and make some temporary changes to your routine until you condition is stable. The more careful you are at the beginning, the more your safety margin will increase and the quicker you will be back to full fitness.

WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN TREATMENTS?

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You will be given advice on first aid procedures - using ice/heat packs, supports, pain relief, etc.
Your osteopath may advise some changes to your lifestyle.
You may be advised on a better sitting position at work, or to avoid picking up small children for a while. Maybe you will need to rest more or to use a support for your back while it is sore.
You could be advised to add in or leave out certain foods or to try certain supplements.
As treatment progresses you will shown simple exercises to do to help correct strained posture and stretch and strengthen weak or tight muscles.