Q: What can osteopathy help with?

A: Patients consult an osteopath for a variety of reasons: to relieve pain, to return to their normal daily activities after injury, or because they are worried about their health. Osteopaths are primary healthcare professionals and can advise on a wide range of health concerns, including referral to other health professionals when appropriate.

Early intervention is key. Whether you are suffering from a long standing, chronic condition, a new problem or occasional discomfort, taking advice and getting preventative treatment can be a worthwhile investment in your long term health.

In the same way that many people visit their dentist to reduce the likelihood of requiring a filling, occasional check-ups with an osteopath allows potential problems to be detected and treated before they become an issue.

Q: Are Osteopaths Regulated?

A: Like GPs and nurses, osteopaths are regulated. Because of this, patients can be confident that their osteopath is well qualified and insured, will adhere to a set of clinical standards that protect patients’ safety and dignity and, like any other health professional, recommend and apply the most appropriate course of treatment for you – which includes referring you on if appropriate.

Osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is against the law to call yourself an osteopath unless you are qualified and registered with the GOsC. The minimum qualification for an osteopath is completion of a four or five year degree, which includes at least 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice. Many osteopaths also study for masters degrees. They must then continue to update and expand their knowledge by logging a minimum of 30 hours per year of continuing professional development. GOsC can remove an osteopath from the register if they fail to maintain a strict code of professional practice. You can check whether an osteopath is registered by visiting the GOsC website.

Q: Does osteopathic treatment hurt?

A: Osteopathic treatment is usually very gentle, but manipulating, massaging or stretching an injured area may be uncomfortable. Your practitioner will explain what you are likely to feel and will stop if you tell them that the treatment is causing you too much pain.

Q: Can I bring a friend / partner?

A: Yes, osteopaths are happy for you to be accompanied by another adult during all or part of your treatment if it makes you feel more comfortable. Children should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout treatment.

Q: How does osteopathy differ from physiotherapy and chiropractic?

A: Osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists are all regulated health professions, requiring practitioners to train to degree level, and then to maintain their clinical skills and professional standards. Whilst all three techniques involve manual therapy, they are all based on very different schools of thought and their approach to patients is different.

The body, as we all know, has the capability to repair itself, and osteopathy is based on this principle.  As primary healthcare professionals, osteopaths have a broad base of training, allowing them to diagnose, treat and advise upon a wide range of conditions.  An osteopath will work to help your body return to normal function, using techniques such as movement, stretching, manipulation or deep tissue massage to help achieve the best outcome.

An osteopath will work with all of the muscles, joints and structures of the body, including the spine. Osteopaths use gentle, focused manipulation techniques to mobilise the spine and other structures and will continuously examine your body monitoring changes throughout treatment. A chiropractor will tend to focus on the spinal joints alone and use a quite different method of manipulation which some people may find more forceful.

Osteopaths tend to use a more hands-on and individualised approach to assessing and treating patients compared to physiotherapists. Osteopaths will seek to understand their patient in the context of their lifestyle, firstly by taking a full case history, and then using a combination of skilled observation and palpation to feel how well the body, including the muscles and joints, is functioning.  These all form an intrinsic part of developing a personalised treatment plan.

Some osteopaths specialise in many of the same areas as physiotherapists including breathing mechanics, rehabilitation and sports injuries.

Practitioners of all three disciplines vary in their treatment approaches and post qualification training, and may specialise in the treatment of specific patient groups or conditions. When seeking treatment you should discuss your symptoms and concerns with the practitioner, and be sure that their skills and treatment style will suit you.

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