What is osteopathy?

The osteopath's job is to diagnose and treat faults that occur in the body's framework. The faults may be due to injury, habitual misuse or overuse, disease states or congenital/developmental abnormalities.

Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. It's main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional, and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit the needs of the individual patient.

Visiting an osteopath

When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken and you will be given an examination.

You will normally be asked to remove some of your clothing and to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then use their highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.

The osteopath may need additional investigations, such as an x-ray or blood tests. This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed for you. Osteopathy is patient-centred, which means the treatment is geared to you as an individual.

Osteopathic treatment

Osteopaths use their hands both to investigate the underlying causes of pain and to carry out treatment using a variety of manipulative techniques. These may include muscle and connective-tissue stretching, rhythmic joint movements or high velocity thrust techniques to improve the range of movement of a joint. Gentle releasing techniques are often used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients.

Treatment is aimed at improving mobility and reducing inflammation by using gentle, manual osteopathic techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments.

You will be given positive advice related to your lifestyle about how you use your body. Age is no barrier to osteopathy since each patient is considered individually and treatment is gentle. You may also be given advice about your diet, which in some people may be a contributing factor to their condition.

Exercises to do at home may also be prescribed to improve joint function and to reduce muscle spasm. Exercise in warm water or salt baths may also be recommended.

Cranial osteopathy

A very gentle technique in which the osteopath's highly trained sense of touch is used to identify and correct mechanical disturbances and limitations, both in and around the joints of the skull, and throughout the body.