What can I expect on my first visit to an osteopath?

At the first consultation, the osteopath will compile a full case history of your symptoms, as well as asking for information about your lifestyle and diet. The osteopath may also observe you making some simple movements to help them make a diagnosis. You will usually be asked to remove some clothing near the area of the body to be examined. Osteopaths are trained to examine areas of the body using a highly-developed sense of touch, known as palpation, to determine conditions and identify the body’s points of weakness or excessive strain. Osteopathy is a ‘package’ of care that includes skilled mobilising and manipulative techniques, reinforced by guidance on diet and exercise. The osteopath will discuss with you the most appropriate treatment plan, estimating the likely number of sessions needed to treat your condition effectively. 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.

What do osteopaths treat?

Osteopathy focuses on the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal and other related disorders without the use of drugs or surgery. Commonly treated conditions include back and neck pain, postural problems, sporting injuries, muscle and joint deterioration, restricted mobility and occupational ill-health.

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a primary care profession, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders, and the effects of these conditions on patients’ general health. Using many of the diagnostic procedures applied in conventional medical assessment, osteopaths seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopathy is based on the principle that the body has the ability to heal, and osteopathic care focuses on strengthening the musculoskeletal systems to treat existing conditions and to prevent illness. Osteopaths’ patient-centred approach to health and well-being means they consider symptoms in the context of the patient’s full medical history, as well as their lifestyle and personal circumstances. This holistic approach ensures that all treatment is tailored to the individual patient.

What training do osteopaths have?

Undergraduate students follow a four or five-year degree course combining academic and clinical work. Qualification generally takes the form of a bachelor’s degree in osteopathy – a BSc(Hons), BOst or BOstMed – or a master’s degree in osteopathy (MOst). Many osteopaths continue their studies after graduating. Osteopaths are required to update their training, skills and knowledge throughout their working lives, through our continuing professional development scheme.

Who sets the standards of training and practice for osteopaths?

The standards of osteopathic training and practice are maintained and developed by the General Osteopathic Council, the profession’s statutory regulator established under the Osteopaths Act 1993.

Can anyone call themselves an osteopath?

The title ‘osteopath’ is protected by law, and only those included on the Register are entitled to practise as osteopaths. Unregistered practice is a criminal offence in the UK.

Can I claim on my private medical insurance?

Many private health insurance policies provide cover for osteopathic treatment. It may be possible to claim for a course of treatment but you should check in advance with your insurance company before seeking osteopathic treatment, in order to confirm the available level of cover and whether you will need to have a referral from your GP or a specialist.

Can I find out how long an osteopath has been registered?

The date an osteopath was first registered with the General Osteopathic Council can be seen in the ‘Practitioner Details’ on the Register.

Can I see an osteopath through the NHS?

Most osteopaths work in the private sector, either alone or in a group practice, and some offer services through the NHS. In some areas, doctors are able to refer patients to an osteopath for treatment funded by the NHS. To find out if NHS treatment is available in your area, speak to your GP and/or contact: 1. If you are in England – your local clinical commissioning group. 2. If you are in Scotland – your local health board. 3. If you are in Wales – your local health board. 4. If you are in Northern Ireland – your local health and social service board. There is more information on who to contact in your region on the NHS website.

Do GPs refer their patients to osteopaths?

Yes. GPs refer patients to osteopaths where they believe this intervention would be beneficial. Referral guidelines are provided by the General Medical Council.

Do I need a GP referral to see an osteopath?

Most patients ‘self-refer’ to an osteopath for treatment. Although referral by a GP is not necessary, patients are encouraged to keep both their GP and osteopath fully informed, so that their medical records are current and complete and the patient receives the best possible care from both healthcare practitioners.

How long do osteopathic appointments usually last?

n general, the first treatment lasts about 45 minutes, and subsequent treatments around half an hour. Your first appointment is usually slightly longer to allow for a full case history to be taken.

What's the difference between (classical) osteopathy & (classical) chiropractic?

When reading the following points, it is important to realize that there are as many similarities as differences between the two professions. Differences, when they occur, can be found not only between the professions but equally between practitioners of the same profession (e.g. in osteopathy: classical/structural osteopathy versus ‘cranial’ osteopathy; in chiropractic: classical chiropractic versus McTimoney chiropractic) chiropractors focus mostly on spinal integrity, using x-rays of the spine to form a diagnosis: osteopaths use palpation (touch) of soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) and spinal positioning in conjunction with overall postural balance to form a diagnosis chiropractors work mainly on the spine; osteopaths work on the spine but also on the whole body, including peripheral joints chiropractors use more manipulative techniques; osteopaths may use manipulation in conjunction with soft tissue and mobilization (stretching of joints) techniques.

Are Manipulations used in Osteopathy?

The answer is sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not used at all. There are times when patients prefer not to, or when it is not the best course of treatment. As part of an osteopath’s training, indications for NOT using a technique (manipulation or otherwise) are thoroughly taught. Manipulations are just one of many techniques available to an osteopath. At Oxspines Osteopathy we tailor treatments according to what I think the patient requires.

Do manipulations hurt and are they dangerous?

If practiced by a qualified and experienced osteopath, the vast majority of times they do not hurt, and they are not dangerous. We believe that osteopathic manipulations shouldn’t hurt if the osteopath has good technique and is respectful of a patient’s sensitivity.

How many treatments will I need?

Understanding how the pain came about, and more importantly why is key and the timeframe for resolving and getting to the bottom of things can vary. We aim to resolve pain both short AND long term, and based on what is needed or whether our client wants to only deal with the short term, the number of sessions can range too.

How does Osteopathy work?

Osteopathy recognizes that the body has the inherent ability to heal itself but that often it needs a helping hand. It combines a variety of treatment techniques to restore the natural physical balance, allowing the body to return to normal pain free function. An important part of osteopathic treatment is that we recognize the importance of biological, psychological, and social/environmental effects on health and the importance of these elements as part of our patient management.

Who can be helped by osteopathic treatment?

Osteopathy can be used to treat all ages. It can be beneficial for all ages, from babies to the elderly. It is recommended for anyone suffering from a complaint that affects their musculoskeletal, visceral, or cranial regions. 

What are the side effects of Osteopathy?

Some patients experience mild soreness or pain following osteopathic treatment because their body to responded to the changes that the treatment creates. This is not usually severe and does not last for long. Serious side effects to osteopathic treatment are rare.

Do osteopaths ‘crack’ backs?

Yes, sometimes osteopaths may manipulate (crack) the spinal joints. Manipulation will only be applied if one of our osteopaths believes it is appropriate and safe following a thorough examination.

Do Osteopaths have specialties?

We are specialists at paediatrics, cranial, TMJ, headaches and womens health. No two days are the same. Some days we treat builders with lower back pain, a pregnant lady, two babies, a knee, a frozen shoulder and a restricted neck, others days we have a totally different mix. We love the variety.

Can Osteopaths do Acupuncture?

Many Osteopaths are trained to carry out western medical dry needling or acupuncture as part of their treatment approach. This is specific to the osteopath.

What is Cranialsacral Osteopathy and is it safe?

Craniosacral osteopathy is a form of hands-on bodywork that uses gentle touch to palpate the joints of the cranium. It can used as a form of treatment for a number of conditions in all age groups and especially in babies. Adverse reactions or side effects are extremely rare in cranial osteopathy.


Can I speed up the healing process after having osteopathy??

Yes, listen to your body, avoid activities that cause discomfort and pain and follow the advice of your practitioner. Ice or heat packs and pain free mobility and stretching may also help, and your osteopath will advise of what is best during your session.

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