What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a hands on system of diagnosis and treatment that is used most frequently to treat pain and disability. Osteopathy offers a way of detecting and treating damaged parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves, tendons and joints. Treatment is hands on using types of massage and manipulation to improve the condition of the soft tissues and joints of the body. Osteopathy is a non-invasive therapy that doesn’t use drugs or surgery.
Osteopaths are able to provide primary care for musculoskeletal conditions and problems. This means that patients are able to consult with an osteopath directly and before any other practitioner including GP’s or consultants. No kind of referal is required and patients can contact an osteopath themselves to arrange appointments.
Where does osteopathy come from?
Osteopathy originated in the 19th century in America when Andrew Taylor Still, a mid-western frontier doctor began to look at medicine in a different way. At this time medicine was very different to today, there were no diagnostic images or tests available to detect disease, there was little understanding of germs and the spread of infection, there were no anasthetics available for surgery, and much of the treatment involved the use of toxic drugs.
By considering how the body was able to heal and recover itself naturally and normally from disease and illness Dr. Sill developed techniques which worked in conjunction with these self recovering systems of the body. Focusing on unhindered blood flow, nerve supply, and the removal of wastes Dr. Still developed a system of hands on medicine that prioritised correct mechanical alignment and function as the foundation for optimal health.
At this time and for some time to follow osteopathy was used to treat all aspects of health and disease. However, currently in the UK osteoapthy is mostly used to treat what are described as mechanical, physical, or musculo-skeletal ailments and problems.
What can osteopathy help with?
It is recognised that osteopathy can help with the following ailments and conditions:
- Aches and Pains
- Arthritic Pain
- Back Pain
- Circulatory Problems
- Digestion Problems
- Joint Pains
- Lumbago Muscle Spasms
- Muscle Tension
- Rheumatic Pain
- Inability to Relax
- Sports Injuries
Other general health conditions that some, but not all Osteopath's can also treat include:
- Frozen Shoulder
- Glue Ear
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Menstrual Pain
- Neck Ache
- Period Pain
What is osteopathic treatment like?
Osteopathic treatment is hands on. It uses a variety of techniques that mobilise and manipulate the joints, muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues of the body. Techniques used in osteopathy range from the very soft and gentle to firmer and stronger treatments. Your osteopath will use the techniques he thinks are most appropriate to your problem in conjunction with your preferences.
Much of the treatment is comfortable and often produces feelings of ease. Some areas that require treatment can feel sore or be tender during treatment. People often describe these tender areas as feeling as though they need it or as having a relieving effect.
Is osteopathy safe?
In 1993 osteopathy became a regulated profession with the passage of the 1993 Osteopaths Act by parliament. The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) is the governing body that ensures that all osteopaths maintain high standards of practice and patient care. Osteopaths are answerable to their governing body similar to other health care professionals such as doctors or dentists.
Whilst osteopathic treatment is safe it is common to feel some after-effects after receiving treatment. The most commonly reported after-effect is to feel some soreness, usually on the following day. Other less commonly reported after effects include tiredness, light headness, or tingling. Most after effects last less than a day. Your osteopath will advise you about this in more detail.