Osteopathy

About Osteopathy:

Osteopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) which uses manual, hands-on techniques to treat and sometimes prevent health problems.

Osteopaths use a holistic approach to treatment and consider symptoms within the context of their patient’s full medical history as well as their lifestyle and personal circumstances. This allows the osteopath to tailor the treatment plan to each individual patient, with the intention of improving the overall health of their patients. They try to look for the root cause of the problem, rather than just treating the patient's symptoms. Osteopaths believe that the body is a unit and look at the whole person when determining a patient’s diagnosis. When a single body part is injured or restricted due to illness, other body systems may compensate for this.

Another principle of osteopathy is that the body has its own self-healing mechanism which enables it to repair itself. An osteopath’s goal is to stimulate the body’s natural self-healing processes via manual therapy.

Each patient will react differently to osteopathic treatment. Some patients will only need one or two treatments, while others may require a course of treatments or return regularly for the long-term management of a chronic condition. This will be dependent on how long the patient has had the problem, how severe it is, and whether there are any current medical, occupational and lifestyle factors that are contributing to, or maintaining the problem. This will be discussed with the patient and a treatment plan will be agreed upon before treatment commences.

Osteopathic techniques include mobilisation of joints, joint manipulation, deep and soft tissue massage, muscle energy techniques, stretching of the soft tissues, nerve stretches, lymphatic drainage and cranial therapy techniques. Most of the techniques used are very gentle, but some may cause some discomfort during treatment. The osteopath will tell you what to expect and always gain your consent before starting any treatment. Your osteopath will want you to tell them if the treatment is too strong for you.

Osteopaths treat people of any age, from newborns, young children, adults and the elderly. They treat manual workers, office professionals, sports persons and pregnant women.

While osteopaths are most commonly used to treat back, neck and other musculoskeletal problems, their techniques can also improve the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems of the body.

Conditions which may benefit from osteopathic treatment include:

• Headaches arising from the neck (cervicogenic)
• Shoulder, elbow and arm problems
• Pelvis, hip, knee and leg problems
• General, acute and chronic backache and pain
• Lumbago
• ‘Sciatica’
• General aches and pains
• Arthritic pain
• Joint pain
• Work-related injuries
• Repetitive strain injuries (RSI)
• Minor sport injuries
• Changes in posture due to pregnancy

Osteopaths are highly trained primary health care professionals who undergo rigorous training in a four or five year undergraduate degree. This allows the osteopath to diagnose and treat patients without referral from a GP or other medical practitioner.

By law, all osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) who sets, maintains and develops standards of osteopathic practice and conduct. The title ‘osteopath’ is protected, and in the UK it is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered with the GOsC. Osteopaths are required to renew their registration each year and to remain on the osteopathic register, an osteopath must be insured and attend regular professional development courses in order to stay abreast with advances in the profession.

The Natural Health Centre 2014