What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal system, which includes the joints, muscles, and spine. Its aim is to positively affect the body’s nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems. Osteopaths do not simply concentrate on treating the problem area, but use manual techniques to balance all the systems of the body, to provide overall good health and well being. They employ a broad range of gentle hands-on techniques including soft tissue stretching, deep tactile pressure, and mobilization or manipulation of joints.
The key principles underpinning the philosophy of osteopathy is that all parts of the body function together in an integrated manner. If one part of the body is restricted, then the rest of the body must adapt and compensate for this, eventually leading to pain, stiffness and other health conditions. Even when the body is free from pain, osteopathic treatment can assist the body with reducing stress and promoting greater mobility providing the body with the opportunity to greater vitality.
What do osteopaths treat?
Osteopaths respect the body’s natural ability as a self-regulating mechanism and aim to promote a general improvement in mobility and structural stability of the body. In turn, other systems of the body such as the circulatory, nervous and lymphatic systems function more effectively and for a number of general conditions, minimal treatment is required.
Osteopathy can be of benefit to a wide range of conditions.
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Foot pain
- Shin splints
- Tennis elbow
- Muscle pain
- Occupational Overuse Syndrome
- Discomfort during pregnancy
- Hip, knee pain
- Digestive problems
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Postural problems
- Post operative rehabilitation
What should I expect during osteopathic treatment?
The first visit to an osteopath will run along the same lines as an initial visit to a GP. A complete medical history is taken and questions asked about lifestyle, diet, and exercise. The osteopath will want to hear about all symptoms, as well as details of any past accidents or traumas, even if they may seem unrelated to your current problem.
During the examination, you may be asked to remove some outer clothing and to perform some simple movements. This is so the osteopath can observe how you are using your body and evaluate your posture. Neurological and orthopedic tests can help the osteopath to eliminate possible underlying pathologies and differentiate the basis of your complaint. You may also be referred for blood tests or X-rays to confirm findings, or review existing diagnostic results where available.
The initial consultation will take around 45 minutes during which the osteopath should be able to offer a diagnosis and treatment. If the diagnosis is one that requires further investigation or specialist intervention, an osteopath will suggest a referral to an appropriate practitioner. Osteopaths often treat in conjunction with GPs, dentists, podiatrists or other health care professionals.
Because osteopathy emphasizes self-healing, an osteopath may also advise dietary changes, home exercise programs, and lifestyle adjustments. All treatment programs are highly individualized and depend on the patient’s current condition, past history, and the ability to adapt to change. Most simple problems often require only 3-4 treatments.