What is osteopathy and how does it work?

Osteopathy is a system of manual medicine, that uses skilled bodywork techniques and a highly developed sense of touch, known as palpation, to treat the bodies structural framework, decrease pain and optimize function. Treatment tends to focus on the muscles, joints, ligaments and connective tissues, to release patterns of tension and strain throughout the body.

One of the major osteopathic principles, looks at the relationship between body structure and function, which is fundamental in defining the science of osteopathy, its treatment rationale and how it works. By gently manipulating and ‘adjusting’ the bodies structure, osteopaths aim to work with the innate self healing mechanisms of the body, by effecting a change in the function and physiology of the soft tissues. Osteopathic treatment aims to remove ‘obstructions’ to health, which maybe caused by poor posture, dysfunctional spinal mechanics, toxic overload, ‘stress’ and other physical, emotional and environmental factors.

What is my treatment approach?

My method of treatment has evolved to use what is known as ‘the body adjustment’. This is associated with classical osteopathy and is an approach that aims to effect a change in the vitality and equilibrium of the whole body. The body adjustment uses gentle, rhythmical articulation of the joints and is applied to the whole skeleton, to correct the relationship between all the integral parts of the bodies framework.

I use manipulative techniques (High velocity low amplitude), where appropriate but only with a patients permission. These are faster, more specific movements that cause the joint to ‘ca-vitiate’ or make a popping sound. This sound occurs when tiny bubbles of gas move within the joint cavity. These manipulative techniques are performed with precision and skill and do not hurt. The body generally feels much more ‘free’ and less tense afterwards.

I also use soft tissue massage work, to release contracted, knotted muscles. This is deeply relaxing and most patients feel like they are falling asleep.

My treatments are never rushed and I believe in taking time to allow the body to relax and ‘unwind’, for tension and stress ‘to melt away’.

The kind of conditions osteopathic treatment can help:

  • Lower back pain
  • Trapped nerves
  • Sciatica
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Chronic postural issues
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Hip problems
  • Knee problems
  • Elbow problems
  • Foot & ankle problems
  • Arthritic pain

Getting to the ‘root of the problem’.

Osteopathy is often successful at treating conditions that seem to defy a conventional medical diagnosis. By looking at ‘the bigger picture’ and treating the person, rather then the symptoms; osteopathic treatment offers an alternative solution to many acute and chronic painful conditions and other health issues.

The focus of treatment is not just to target the symptoms and painful areas of the body; the aim is to get to the underlying cause of the problem. For example, when someone is suffering from back pain, the symptomatic area or ‘sore bits’ will not necessarily be the source of the problem. Very often the problem will actually be in a part of the body distant to the actual site of pain. It is therefore important to treat the body as a whole and it is for this reason that osteopaths assess and treat people holistically, taking into account the physical, mental, emotional and environmental aspects and domains of a person.

Benefits of treatment:

The therapeutic affects of osteopathic treatment is to improve posture, increases movement, decreases pain and optimizes function. The circulation is ‘opened up’ to increase blood supply to the tissues, whilst metabolic waste products are drained through the lymphatic system. The nervous system is also affected to decrease muscle tension and release ‘stress’ within myofacial connective tissues.

After a course of treatment, patients often report that they sleep much better, have more vitality and are able to enjoy everyday activities, free from pain and with more mobility.

What to expect on your first visit:

The first consultation and treatment takes approximately 1 hour. Firstly a medical case history will be taken to establish the background to your problem, the reason for your visit and how you can best be helped. You will also be asked about your general health, medical conditions, medications you are taking, surgical history, and anything else that is relevant to your case.

  • Please try to remember to bring a list of medications with you (if you taking any), and also any copies of medical reports. This is all useful information to build up a full picture of your medical history.

An in-depth assessment and examination will be carried out to look at your posture and to see how your body is moving. Your spine and joints will need to be looked at and you will most likely be asked to remove some clothing to do so. It is helpful if ladies wear a sports bra or something that they will feel comfortable in, during the examination and treatment. Towels and gowns are available for those that need them.

In some cases a patient maybe advised to have further medical tests or investigations done, to establish the cause of the problem and to rule out any serious medical conditions, that would not be suitable for osteopathic treatment.

 Treating and managing your condition:

In most cases treatment will commence on your first visit.  A diagnosis of your condition will be explained to you, regarding the cause of your problem, along with a plan of action, to implement the best solution to resolve it.

Follow up treatments will almost certainly be advised, to check the progress of your recovery and to ‘unpack’ the problem as it resolves. It is a bit like peeling an onion…,in other words, there are often a number of layers to a problem, that need to be dealt with to bring about a lasting resolution.

I do not believe in quick fixes or instant cures! Problems do take time to get better and many conditions are complex, requiring more then one treatment to sort out. Other factors such as lifestyle, diet and exercise need to be considered, along with the environmental, emotional and spiritual domains. Not all pain originates from purely physical causes!