Osteopathy is a manual therapy that aims to improve the environment within the body to allow its normal function. Osteopaths believe that structure governs function, and that one can have an effect on the other. In other words if a part of the body is out of balance, it won’t function correctly, and at some point in the near or distant future, it will show signs and symptoms of this dysfunction.
Osteopaths use a combination of manipulation. mobilisation, soft tissue/massage, stretching, rehabilitative exercise, and nutrition advice to try to achieve an optimum environment within the body, to allow the individual’s self- healing, self-maintaining and self-regulating processes to take place.
The stresses and strains of daily living, be it posture related, overuse, environmental, emotional or nutritional, can wreak havoc on our bodies. We aim to address all these issues in a quest for health. The body requires a sufficient blood supply (to feed oxygen to our body parts), a sufficient nerve supply (to control our organs, bodily processes, muscles and joints and soft tissues), and sufficient drainage (to remove toxins from our body parts) to achieve health. As an example think of squeezing a hose pipe. Not enough water will come out to feed the plants and they start to wilt. The same happens in our bodies; if our nerves or blood vessels are squashed by tight muscles and joints (e.g. through bad posture or overuse) the oxygen cannot be delivered efficiently, waste cannot be removed, and nerves cannot conduct their information properly, which leads to a decline in our body function. Osteopathy can by used in the prevention of this and restoring normal function.
Osteopathy is used in the treatment of:
- generalised aches and pains
- joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core OA treatments and exercise
- arthritic pain
- general, acute and chronic backache (not arising from injury or accident)
- uncomplicated mechanical neck pain
- headache arising from the neck/ migraine prevention
- frozen shoulder/ shoulder and elbow pain/ tennis elbow arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck
- circulatory problems
- digestion problems
- joint pains, lumbago
- muscle spasms
- inability to relax
- rheumatic pain
- minor sports injuries and tensions
What to expect:
You will have an initial consultation, which will cover the reason for the visit, some general information about yourself and a medical history. It may seem a bit long-winded at first but we have to make sure there is no underlying medical reason for your presenting complaint. We may refer you for further testing if we deem it necessary (e.g. blood test, X-Ray).
Then you will be asked to undress down to your underwear. This is necessary because we need to get a good idea of what is going on throughout the whole body. (A flat foot may be causing your leg to rotate, which will cause a tilt in your pelvis and then your low back for example). Please use the privacy screen if you wish. You may also wish to have a chaperone, be it a friend or relative. If this is the case please let us know before you attend the clinic.
You will then be given an osteopathic examination, involving looking at your posture and assessing how your muscles, joints and connective tissues work. There may be some discomfort as you may have to move the symptomatic region, however we will always work with you on this.
Assuming all is satisfactory and a working diagnosis can be made, treatment will be commenced based on the techniques listed above, towels will be provided to maintain modesty. Explanations will be given for treatment rationales. There may be some discomfort following treatment, again because of the moving of, and working on the dysfunctioning body parts. It may be necessary to work on other areas of the body that may be directly or indirectly causing the dysfunction. This will be done on subsequent treatments. Usually you can expect to be seen 3-6 times. Then maintenance treatments may be advised.
Are there any risks, side effects or complications associated with Osteopathic treatment?
As with all things these days we are obliged to warn you of any risks or side effects associated with osteopathic treatment, no matter how small. Side-effects are the unwanted, but mostly mild and temporary effects of a successful treatment.
If you do have any side effects, they may include muscle soreness, spasm, discomfort or mild pain, headache or tiredness. These usually only last a day or two. You may experience more acute discomfort in some cases depending on how your body reacts, but again it shouldn’t last long and there are measures you can take to reduce discomfort.
Complications are when problems occur during or after the treatment.
As with all interventions, there are risks associated with spinal manipulative therapy (SMT). Infrequent, but potentially serious side effects include: damage to an artery and stroke, spinal disc herniation, vertebral and rib fractures and cauda equina syndrome (damage to the bundle of nerves at the base of your spine), fracture, and sympotoms related to underlying pathology. All These are usually related to serious underlying pathology, which is always screened for in your case histories and physical examination, so there really is no need to worry. Estimates from studies of manual therapies, including osteopathy, suggest serious patient incidents following manipulation are 1 per 100,000-1,000,000 manipulations, or 1 per 50,000-100,000 patients. This is across all manual therapies, not osteopathy alone.
Osteopaths are trained to check the suitability of treatment and for risk factors.
If you do not want to have these treatment modalities (which are not always indicated in any case), or you want to discuss in more detail, please don’t hesitate to ask.