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What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a type of manual therapy helping treat and prevent health problems. Osteopaths are part of the allied health professionals. This means they are primary healthcare practitioners. They use a holistic approach to healthcare and  help manage patients’ care throughout the life course from birth to palliative care.

Osteopathy was first founded and introduced in the late 1800s in America by Andrew Taylor Still, a surgeon and physician. His idea was to use manual therapy in order to help the body heal itself without the need for surgery or medication. Osteopathy was then brought over to the UK and Europe by one of his students John Martin Littlejohn. Osteopathy has since developed in many countries and is part of many countries’ healthcare systems.

Osteopaths follow certain principles to help the body heal and prevent health issues by reducing pain, increasing mobility and by giving exercises and lifestyle advice. They are experts in evaluating, diagnosing and treating many conditions of the musculoskeletal system and the rest of the body.

Most people know osteopaths as manual therapists treating back pain and bone pain. Osteopaths actually help and treat a very wide range of people and not just bone and joint pain!

What can an osteopath treat?

Osteopaths can help with a range of different issues such as:

  • Joint Pain 
  • Spinal Injuries
  • Sports Injuries
  • Post Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Pre and Post Natal Musculoskeletal Complaints
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic Pain
  • Headaches and Migraines

Osteopaths are highly skilled practitioners when it comes to the musculoskeletal system. However they can help with other conditions and symptoms such as circulatory problems, pelvis and abdomen or even baby specific complaints.

If you are not sure if your current complaint can be treated by an osteopath, many practitioners offer phone consultations to advise you on what to do and who you should go and see.

What to expect during an osteopathy session?

On the first appointment, Your osteopath will ask you questions about your general health, your lifestyle and the problem you are coming in with to have a greatly detailed medical history. Your osteopath will then complete a physical examination which usually includes assessing your posture, the quality of your movements and your joint, muscular and spinal health.

During your appointment and with your consent, you might need to undress down to your underwear for the practitioner to have a better idea of how your body and joints are working. Some people feel more comfortable wearing sports clothes such as shorts and sports bras to make it easier. 

After examining you, the osteopath will then give you their working diagnosis and communicate with you their treatment and management plan devised specially for you. 

The techniques used by an osteopath can vary from one practitioner to the other. It may include manipulations, soft tissue work and stretching. Some osteopaths have other qualifications such as acupuncture, cranial osteopathy or specific massage techniques and they may integrate it to their treatment approach.

After your appointment, some people can experience some mild side effects. Those can include soreness, stiffness or tiredness. Those symptoms are usually very mild and tend to disappear after a few days.

How long does it take to work?

During your initial consultation, your osteopath will give you a better idea of how long you should expect your problem will need to heal. The expected changes in your symptoms could vary from one to three treatments. In some cases you can get some immediate relief after the initial session. When the condition is chronic, you might require more sessions in order to get changes to your symptoms.