Osteopathy is a very powerful technique of detecting, treating and preventing some health problems by manipulating muscles and joints. It is commonly used for helping with back pain, although it can be used to help with pain in other parts of the body too.
What does an osteopath do?
On an initial visit to the osteopath the consultation will begin by asking general questions about your health and lifestyle, and examine some aspects of your medical history. The osteopath will then discuss with you the symptoms or injuries that you are concerned with. If available they may also study test results, scans and X-ray data. All of the information you provide will be treated confidentially.
Once satisfied that they have a good understanding of the problem with your consent they will perform a physical examination, including possibly observing you making some simple movements and stretches to determine your posture and mobility. Pain or stiffness in one part of the body may be linked to a problem elsewhere.
Together with the outcome of your initial discussion and the test data, this will enable the osteopath to make a diagnosis and prepare a course of treatment for you, which will usually involve some follow up visits for manual therapy and exercises. They may also recommend some lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and so on) if they feel that these would help.
Osteopaths are highly trained and specialize in the ability to examine the body using a highly developed sense of touch, known as “palpation”. The treatment is “hands on” and involves skilled manipulation of the spine and joints and massage of soft tissues. All the way through the treatment the osteopath will explain what they are doing and why, and will seek your consent.
Due to the nature of the treatment, it is not unusual for patients to feel some soreness or stiffness during the following day or two; this is quite normal and nothing to worry about, but you should tell your osteopath if you have any concerns.
It is a good idea to keep your GP informed of any treatment you receive (ALL treatment, not only osteopathy) ensuring the doctor has a complete picture of your health at all times. With your agreement you osteopath may also write to your GP.
If the osteopath thinks that your condition is unlikely to respond to osteopathic treatment, you will be advised about how to seek further care. Osteopaths are skilled in diagnostic techniques and trained to identify when a patient needs to be referred to a GP or consultant.
Our next article will outline the types of condition that osteopathy can help with.
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