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Please note that this definition of Osteopathy has been taken from information provided by third parties and healers.co.uk does not endorse any statements that may be given, nor recommend any services offered. Additionally the definition or opinions provided below may differ from those which may be given by some practitioners. This information should therefore be considered as general guidance only, and you should always consult professional advice if you are in any way concerned about your health.


Professionalism and safety

To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered. The British Medical Association’s guidance for general practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.

What is Osteopathy

Although osteopaths treat many conditions, most people think of them as ‘back specialists’ - back pain is the most common complaint treated. Osteopathic treatment does not target symptoms only, but treats the parts of the body that have caused the symptoms. Osteopaths have a holistic approach and believe that your whole body will work well if your body is in good structural balance, Imagine, for example, a car that has one of its front wheels not quite pointing straight. It may run well for a while, but after a few thousand miles, the tyre will wear out. You can apply this example to the human body, which is why it is so important to keep the body in good balance. Osteopathy uses a wide range of techniques, including massage, cranial techniques (sometimes referred to as 'cranial osteopathy') and joint mobilization. This breadth of approach allows a good focus on every patient’s precise needs.

Osteopaths can assess and treat people of any age - also pregnant women and sportspeople.

Osteopathic Assessment

Before treatment commences, a full medical assessment is taken in order to understand the medical history and day-to-day routine. Questions relate to things like diet, exercise and what is happening in your life, as these may give clues to help the diagnosis. Assessment may also include taking your pulse and checking your reflexes and blood pressure. You may be referred for clinical tests such as x-rays if necessary.

Your posture will normally be assessed and how you move your body - also what happens when the osteopath moves it for you and sees what hurts, where and when.

Using touch, the areas which are sensitive or tight may be located - helping to identify what’s going on.

All of these processes help to assess your condition.

The treatment

Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle manipulations, depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis.

Treatment is different for every patient but may include techniques such as different types of soft tissue massage and joint articulation to release tension, stretch muscles, help relieve pain and mobilise your joints.

Sometimes, when joints are manipulated you may hear a ‘click’. This is just like the click people get when they crack their knuckles.

Exercises may be suggested to help improve your posture and movement, in your workplace and everyday life.

Conditions Treated

The most common conditions treated are:
  • back and neck pain
  • shoulder and arm problems
  • pelvis, hip and leg problems
  • sports and other injuries However, patients have also found osteopathy helpful for many other conditions.


    What should I wear ?
    - As with any medical examination, you will probably be asked to undress to your underwear, so please wear something you are comfortable in.

    Can I bring a friend or relative ?
    - Yes if you wish, you can have someone present throughout your consultation and treatment.

    Does it hurt ?
    - Some soft tissue treatment may cause discomfort during treatment. Your osteopath will tell you what to expect, and will want you to let them know if you are in pain. You may feel a little stiff or sore after treatment. This is a normal, healthy response to the treatment.

    Do I need to see my doctor first ?
    - You do not need to see your doctor first if you are paying for your own treatment. However, some insurance companies require you to see your doctor first. Osteopathy is available on the NHS in some areas and national guidelines say it should be available everywhere for low back pain.

    How much does treatment cost ?
    - The costs of treatment vary from practice to practice and across the country. You should ask about costs before booking.

    How many treatments will I need ?
    - The number of treatments required depends on your condition and other personal aspects. Osteopaths should aim to keep your appointments to a minimum. Your osteopath will be able to tell you within a short period of time whether they can treat you or if they might need to refer you to someone else.


    British Osteopathic Association - www.osteopathy.org

    Acknowledgements :
    The British Osteopathic Association

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