Osteopathy is an established, recognised system of diagnosis and treatment that uses a wide variety of "hands-on" techniques to treat conditions affecting the body’s musculo-skeletal system (the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue). Osteopathy recognises that 'structure governs function'. That is, the body can only function at optimum levels if it is structurally sound. Alteration of the structure of the body (especially the spine) leads to reduced or impaired function in its organs and tissues.
By paying attention to the overall significance of any alteration in structure or function, an osteopath is able to interpret whole patterns of aches, pains and general health problems that other eyes might regard as unconnected.
What Can Osteopathy Treat?
Many patients come to us with sports injuries and back problems. Although this is an area in which osteopathy is known to produce excellent results lots of people are unaware that it can also be used to treat a wide range of diverse conditions that affect people of all age groups, such as: Infant colic and sleep disturbance in infants Period pain Back pain and sciatica during pregnancy Some arthritic conditions Headaches/Migraine Neuritis such as carpal tunnel syndrome Plantar fasciitis Osteopathic treatment may also be of assistance, in conjunction with medical treatment, in the symptomatic management of conditions such as asthma, constipation/irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic fatigue.
What happens during a Consultation?
A consultation for a new patient usually lasts 60 minutes. The consultation begins with the taking of a detailed case history, which includes questions about past medical history, family history, accident history and medication use. This helps identify any possible underlying health problems you may have in addition to the problem you have come in with. The osteopath will then examine you.This will firstly consist, of checking blood pressure, heart and lung sounds etc. This will be followed by a detailed examination of your musculo-skeletal structure, posture, spinal curvatures and muscle tone in order to arrive at a diagnosis. Treatment will then be carried out. Afterwards, you may also be given follow-up advice, exercises etc. Subsequent consultations are usually shorter, and last between 30-45 minutes.
What techniques Do Osteopaths use?
Osteopaths use a wide range of "movement" techniques. These include. Stretching Passive mobilisation of joints A wide variety of "soft tissue" release techniques, including massage, isometric stretches (known as "muscle energy techniques",) and gentle "positional release" and "functional" techniques, which release tensions in tissues by putting them into "positions of ease." Lymphatic drainage techniques Joint manipulations where they are considered appropriate and safe "Cranial" techniques which involve very gentle mobilisation of the bones of the skull and face "Visceral" techniques designed to release tension and restrictions of normal movement in the internal organs and their attachments. Preventive care Our Osteopaths are not only concerned with trying to alleviate patients’ pain and other symptoms, but also with trying to help prevent problems recurring. We regard treatment as a co-operative process between practitioner and patient, and encourage patients to participate in preventive health programmes. This may include the prescription of exercise programmes, postural and dietary advice etc.
Osteopathy For Children
We usually think of children as being healthy and lively, apart from the odd cold and childhood illnesses such as measles and chicken pox, so why would a child need osteopathic treatment? There may be a number of reasons: Many osteopaths believe that gentle "cranial" techniques are of value in relieving the after-effects of birth traumas such as compression of the head in forceps deliveries. Non-invasive cranial, functional and visceral osteopathic techniques may be used to treat problems such as infant colic, sleep disturbance and recurrent vomiting. Even young children may suffer joint pain, muscle, tendon and ligament injuries as a result of those inevitable playground falls and schoolyard accidents, and osteopathic treatment can help alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery. As children reach their teens, many of them take part high-level sports and contact sports, and osteopathy can assist in treating any sports injuries they may receive. In the late teens, a combination of long computer use, poor study postures, and carrying heavy school bags or laptop computers can lead to headaches, neck and back pain. In addition to providing treatment, osteopaths can give valuable postural and ergonomic advice and strengthening exercises. (Please note that a parent or guardian who can provide consent for treatment should accompany minors).
Osteopathy For Women & Mothers To Be
It is not generally realised that osteopathy has considerable potential for helping with women’s problems. Osteopathic treatment can provide relief from period pain and gynaecologically related low back pain. Our Osteopath can also assist with exercise and self help programmes for women’s problems. Pregnancy should be a time for great joy for the proud parents, but for the mother-to-be it is often marred, particularly later in the pregnancy, by back pain and sciatica as the "bulge" grows larger, and sometimes by neck and shoulder pain resulting from breast enlargement. Even after the birth, new mothers often suffer from back pain from lifting and carrying the baby, and neck and shoulder pain resulting from breastfeeding. Osteopathic treatment can be of great benefit for the mother-to-be at all stages of the pregnancy, and indeed even before conception! In patients who have a past history of back pain, osteopathic treatment to sort out the problems before conception can help prevent or reduce problems as the pregnancy progresses. During the pregnancy osteopathic treatment can be carried out right up until the end stages. It goes without saying that safety is the primary consideration. Our Osteopath will use only those techniques which are known to be safe for use during pregnancy. For the new mother, in addition to treatment for any aches and pains that occur, our osteopath can provide ergonomic advice on lifting and carrying the baby, and on the best choice of pushers, baby car seats etc. She can also assist with exercise programmes.
Osteopathy And Sports Injuries Osteopathy offers significant benefits to patients suffering from sports related injuries. Osteopathy is a whole-body therapy. This means that when osteopaths treat sports injuries they do not simply treat the injured area, but also take into consideration the biomechanical effects of the injury on other areas of the body. As a simple example, let’s look at a knee ligament strain resulting from athletics. Depending on their severity, ligament tears can take up to three months to heal fully. During that time, it is likely that the injured person will "favour" the injured leg, and put more weight on the other leg. Over a period of time this may lead to imbalances in the pelvic muscles and even in the low back. Because of this, an osteopath treating the injury will treat all of these related areas in addition to the injured knee itself. Our osteopath can also advise on rehabilitation strategies and exercises. Osteopathy For Older People As you get older you tend to suffer more from aches and pains, and of course degenerative conditions such as osteo-arthritis also become more common. However, osteopathy can do much to help maintain mobility and quality of life. Some of the conditions that occur with age cannot be completely reversed. An arthritic joint, for instance, cannot be fully restored to its original condition, but osteopathic treatment can help in maintaining range of movement and minimising pain. The benefits of keeping up excise in old age are now well documented and our osteopath can provide advice on the most suitable exercises. She can also help compile exercise programmes and can also give advise on how to modify lifestyle to reduce injury risks, and on the types of aids and equipment available to older patients. Many older patients worry about the safety of manual therapy, and whether the treatment may be too forceful for them. Osteopaths, however, have a wide range of gentle and non-invasive techniques available to them, and our osteopath is careful to choose techniques that are safe for older patients.
How Safe Is Osteopathy?
Osteopaths can only graduate after four years of full-time education. A thorough knowledge of the medical sciences combined with an extended period of clinical training is central to the osteopath's ability to make a differential diagnosis, and to distinguish conditions, which will benefit from osteopathic treatment. Osteopathy is the first of the professions, previously outside the conventional medical services, to achieve statutory recognition. In 1993, the Osteopaths Act was passed to establish a single governing body, the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) which has a statutory duty not only to regulate, but also to develop and promote the profession. The GOsC has a duty to safeguard patients by ensuring the highest possible standards of ethical and clinical practice. Osteopathy has now taken its place alongside conventional medicine.