What Is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a safe and natural approach to healthcare. Patients may be treated for health problems from the trauma of birth to the arthritis of the elderly, from the cradle to the rocking chair. Britain’s osteopaths see over six million patients every year. Most practice privately at their own clinics. Increasingly, too, they are working with the NHS to make osteopathy more widely available.
What about treatment?
Osteopaths use their hands both to investigate the underlying causes of pain and to carry out treatment using a variety of manipulative techniques. These may include muscle and connective tissue stretching, rhythmic joint movements or high velocity thrust techniques to improve the range of movement of a joint. Gentle releasing techniques are often used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients. The cranial approach also uses very gentle techniques in which the osteopaths highly developed sense of touch is used to identify and correct mechanical disturbances and limitations, both in and around the skull and throughout the body. It can help a wide range of patients with conditions including glue ear, migraine, and dizziness and, for babies, the after effects of difficult deliveries. By gently releasing tension in the baby’s body, the osteopath can often relieve discomfort which might otherwise be attributed to colic or fretfulness.
What do osteopaths treat?
A recent survey of osteopathic practices underlined the wide range of patients treated.
Half suffer lower back trouble. Most back pains result from mechanical disturbances of the spine – postural strains, joint derangement’s and spinal disc injuries. Osteopathy, with its comprehensive approach to healthcare, is a particularly successful approach to treatment.
Over half are women. Many women are working mothers and combining both aspects of their lives can give a rise of problems from the perennial headache to debilitating musculo–skeletal disorders. Many headaches originate from stiffness and tension in the neck and osteopathic treatment can often bring relief. Pregnancy can put a strain on the whole spine and osteopathic treatment can help the body to adapt to the many changes it experiences.
A quarter are in their forties. Many patients are loosing fitness at this stage in their lives and are more prone to injury. Osteopaths consider the whole person, examining posture and the strength and flexibility of muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Many are elderly. Pain killers are not the only solution for aches and pains associated with ageing. For more permanent relief it is necessary to eliminate the underlying causes of pain, a job for which an osteopath is specially trained. Osteopathy can also help to reduce pain and stiffness in the less acute stages of arthritis.
Many problems relate to work. Work, whether at a computer terminal or in heavy industry, can give rise to disorders of muscles, tendons and joints, particularly in the back, hands and arms. Osteopaths treat many conditions related to the work place and can give remedial advice and preventative exercise.
What will it cost?
Most people consult an osteopath privately. Telephone local practices to find out about fees in your area. An increasing number of osteopaths work with GP practices so that it may be possible for your doctor to refer you to an osteopath on the NHS. Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. Some companies will reimburse the total fee that you have paid to the osteopath, some only a percentage. Most companies require GP or a specialist referral. All insurance companies have help lines to explain your actual benefits and methods of claiming.
Visiting an osteopath
When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken and you will be given an examination. You will normally be asked to remove some of your clothing, (click here for The Pain and Injury Clinic’s guidelines on dressing for treatment) and to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then use his or her highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body. The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray or blood tests. This will allow you a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed with you. Osteopathy is patient centred, which means the treatment is geared to you as an individual.
Dressing For Treatment
The easiest way for an osteopath to assess and treat a patient is with them in their underwear, allowing a full view of the patient’s posture and the relationship of their arms and legs relative to the rest of their body.
However we of course respect anybody’s right to privacy and are sensitive to any embarrassment that might be caused by examination in one’s underwear.
We therefore offer the following alternatives:
We can provide a gown covering the front of the body but allowing us a view of the spine You can come with loose fitting garments such as a t-shirt and trousers with an elasticated waist. If either of these two alternatives are not satisfactory we are quite prepared to discuss any further options.