Osteopathy

About osteopathic treatment

Osteopathy is a method of treatment which aims to address the underlying areas ofdysfunctionthat lead to painful episodes. It looks at “the knock on effects” of dysfunction throughout the whole body which accumulate and result in the body’s inability to compensate causing pain and restriction in mobility. In this way osteopathy attempts to differ from most other manual therapies as treatment will not necessarily focus on the area that is in pain which can seem peculiar to patients at first.

Treating in this way has several advantages:

Degenerative Conditions

No manual therapist can repair the wear and tear process known as osteoarthritis, but through treating holistically we aim to improve the body’s mechanical efficiency to reduce the load bearing on the degenerative joints by optimising function. We aim to achieve this by treatment of the surrounding soft tissue and joints to affect weight bearing, posture and localised fluid flow. In this way osteopathy aims to help to reduce pain in-between acute and chronic episodes.

Postural conditions

It is common knowledge that many of our lifestyles are too sedentary which has been linked to several health conditions, including musculoskeletal pain. Osteopathy aims to return your body’s posture to an ideal position helping your body to cope with the stresses of day to day life. Advice is given to help patients adapt their environment/lifestyle to assist in prevention of reoccurrence.

Digestive and respiratory conditions

Osteopathy is not able to treat respiratory, digestive or gynaecological conditions directly. However, we are able to affect the thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavities by working on the joints, soft tissue and connective tissue structures that form them. Blood supply to these areas is naturally aided by fluctuations in pressure between these cavities and if there is an imbalance in this pressure then it can affect function of the viscera and present as pathological problems, by optimising the biomechanics of the surrounding structures we can aid the return of healthy cavity dynamics and blood supply which will improve function of the viscera and can help reduce symptoms. There are many other ways we can improve visceral function including improving spinal mechanics to affect sympathetic nerve supply and directly treating connective tissue structures such as ligaments to reduce tension. In this way visceral conditions can both be caused by and cause musculoskeletal pain and therefore it is important to take into account when treating, which is where the holistic approach is important. This applies for conditions such as circulatory problems, cramp, inability to relax and digestion problems.

Examples of what we treat

Visceral (organ) conditions

  • circulatory problems
  • cramp
  • digestion problems
  • inability to relax

Upper limb

  • frozen shoulder
  • shoulder pain
  • elbow pain
  • tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)

Neck and back pain

  • mechanical neck pain
  • headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic)
  • migraine prevention
  • general, acute & chronic back pain
  • sciatica
  • neuralgia

Sports

  • sports injuries and tensions

Osteoarthritis / degenerative pain

  • joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis
  • arthritic pain

Other

  • generalised aches and pains
  • joint pains, lumbago
  • muscle spasms
  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatic pain

What to expect

You can either go online or phone to book your appointment. When you arrive you will need to go up a flight of stairs and wait in the waiting room where your practitioner will meet you.

Your first consultation will take up to an hour and will involve the taking of a full case history which includes information about your presenting complaint as well as your medical history. Some patients may find this tedious and be keen for treatment to start but being so thorough gives us a better indication as to the cause of your problem and how best to treat it. All of your details will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.

After this you will be asked to undress to your underwear. This helps the practitioner to observe any dysfunctions in your body, it is much easier to note asymmetries and postural imbalances that clothes would hide and therefore maximises the benefits of your treatment. However, if you are not comfortable with this, we ask that you bring shorts/leggings and an elasticated top to change into.An osteopathic examination is then completed and, when necessary, orthopaedic and neurological testing. This will usually provide us with an in-depth understanding as to how your body is functioning and what we need to do to restore healthy function or will be able to advise you to contact your GP for further investigations such as X-rays, MRI scans, urine and blood tests if necessary.

Treatment varies from person to person depending on their condition, what imbalance is found within their body and what treatment type best suits them. This will include articulation, soft tissue techniques, functional techniques, cranial techniques, manipulation and visceral techniques. It is important to know that there are many ways to address a condition and, as such, if you are not comfortable with a certain technique it is important that you tell your practitioner as they will be happy to try other methods.

Further treatments will be approximately half an hour in duration and will require a much less thorough case history and examination and will focus more on treatment.

The number of treatments also depends on your complaint although generally if you have suffered for a long period of time the tissues are chronic and fibrous and take longer to return to their neutral position whereas more acute episodes generally require fewer appointments. This will all be discussed with you after your first appointment.

Maternity and babies

Pregnancy requires enormous adaptations and puts an awful lot of additional stress on the body. These changes include the softening of ligaments, weight increase and changes to posture. This can lead to additional pressure on joints in various parts of the body, including the spine or pelvis. Receiving osteopathic treatment may help relieve this strain on your body both during pregnancy and after birth.

Undergraduate training for osteopaths includes paediatrics and osteopathic techniques are suitable for children at all stages of development; your child will be assessed to see what might help. Babies’ skeletons are softer than an adult’s and osteopaths will therefore use more gentle techniques such as cranial and functional osteopathic techniques when treating babies. Osteopaths sometimes work with local health visitors and midwives and are trained to screen for medical conditions and will tell you if you need to see another health professional such as your doctor or midwife.

Osteopathy in sport

The three main objectives osteopathic treatment has when treating athletes is to treat the sports injury, to make future injuries less likely and to increase performance.

Athletes are continually pushing their bodies to their limits to meet their next target and as such they are prone to injury. By seeking osteopathic treatment when such injuries occur you may reduce recovery time and optimise the healing process as well as to limit the weakness in the damaged tissue after healing. Treatment may also minimise compensatory patterns forming which will potentially affect your sport when you return to training.

Most people have imbalance within their bodies; asymmetries of which they are unaware. Any mechanical imbalance results in the body not being able to function to maximum capacity and, in the case of athletes, this means they are not performing at their best potential. In addition to this, when in training, the stress put through joints and soft tissues within the body are often great and any mechanical imbalance will mean that the stress is not distributed equally, with some areas being loaded more than others. This increases risk of immediate injury but also may increasethe chance of premature degenerative changes later on in life.