Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and treatment, which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body. It is distinctive by the fact that it recognises that much of the pain and disability, which we suffer, stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease.
Whilst back pain is the most common problem seen, osteopathy can help with a wide varied of problems including changes to posture in pregnancy, babies with colic or sleeplessness, repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, children with glue ear, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries among many others.
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 a highly developed sense of touch, called palpitation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body. The osteopath may need additional investigations such as 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 treatment is geared to you as an individual. Your osteopath should be able to give you an indication after your first visit. For some acute pain one or two treatments may be all that is necessary. Chronic conditions may need ongoing maintenance.
A formal referral from your GP is not necessary, the majority of osteopathic patients self-refer.
Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide variety of treatment techniques. These may include soft tissue techniques, rhythmic passive joint mobilisation or the high velocity thrust techniques designed to improve mobility and the range of movement of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients. This allows the body to return the efficient normal function.
A Registered Osteopath has demonstrated to the General Osteopathic Council via a detailed application process that they are a safe and competent practitioner, that they have adequate malpractice insurance and have agreed to abide by a Code of Practice.
Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. Some companies will reimburse the total fee or pay a percentage of the costs. Contact the help line of your insurance company who will explain the actual benefits and methods of claim for your individual policy.
Often problems are caused by misunderstandings and can easily be resolved by discussing your concerns with the osteopath directly. If this does not resolve the problem or your concerns are of a more serious nature the GosC has a Code of Practice which patients may refer to.
The 1993 report from the British Medical Association "Complementary Medicine New Approaches to Good Practice" recognised osteopathy as a discrete clinical discipline. Osteopathy is the first complementary health care profession to be accorded statutory regulation (Osteopaths Act 1993).
Acupuncture needles are nothing like the hypodermic needles used to give injections. They are much thinner, about the width of a human hair(or even smaller). When the needles are inserted by a skilled acupuncturist, there is usually no pain at all; occasionally the sensation may be like a brief mosquito bite. Most of the time patients find the treatments extremely relaxing, and often fall asleep.
Acupuncture is extremely safe. All inserted needles are factory sterilized and then immediately disposed of after use.
This really depends on the specific case. As a general rule, patients will experience a significant improvement in symptoms within 4-6 treatments. Acute problems usually respond more quickly; chronic problems of long standing duration can take a lot longer (often 2-3 months).