Osteopathy is an established, recognised system of diagnosis and treatment that lays its main emphasis on the structural integrity of the body. It is distinctive in the fact that it recognises much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease.

Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit the needs of the individual patient.

Osteopaths use their hands both to investigate the underlying causes of pain and to carry out treatment using a variety of manipulative techniques. These may include muscle and connective tissue stretching, rhythmic joint movements or high velocity thrust techniques to improve the range of movement of a joint. Gentle releasing techniques are often used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients.

The cranial approach also uses very gentle techniques in which the osteopath’s highly trained sense of touch is used to identify and correct mechanical disturbances and limitations, both in and around the joints for the skull, and throughout the body.

It can help a wide range of patients with conditions including glue ear, migraine, and dizziness and, for babies, the after effects of difficult deliveries. By gently releasing tension in the baby’s body, the osteopath can often relieve discomfort which might otherwise be attributed to colic or fretfulness

Who do osteopaths treat?
A recent survey of osteopathic practices underlined the wide range of patients treated.

Half suffer low back trouble. Most back pains result from mechanical of the spine postural strains, joint derangement’s and spinal disc injuries. Osteopathy, with its comprehensive approach to healthcare, is a particularly successful approach to treatment.

Over half are women. Many women are working mothers and combining both aspects of their lives can give rise to problems from the perennial headache to debilitating musculo-skeletal disorders. Many headaches originate from stiffness and tension in the neck and osteopathic treatment can often bring relief. Pregnancy can put a strain on the whole spine and osteopathic treatment can help the body adapt to the many changes if experiences.

A quarter are in their forties. Many patients are losing fitness at this stage in their lives and are more prone to Injury. Osteopaths consider the whole person, examining posture and the strength and flexibility of muscles, ligaments and tendons. Treatment is designed to alleviate current problems and to help recurrences.

Many are elderly. Pain-killers are not the only solution for the aches and pains associated with ageing. For more permanent relief it is necessary to eliminate the underlying causes of pain, a job for which the osteopath is specifically trained. Osteopathy can also help to reduce pain and stiffness in the less acute stages of arthritis.

Many problems relate to work. Work, whether at a computer terminal or in heavy industry, can give rise to disorders of muscles, tendons and joints, particularly in the back, hands and arms. Osteopaths treat many conditions related to the workplace and can give remedial advice and preventative exercise.

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 palpation, 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 with you. Osteopathy is patient centred, which means the treatment is geared to you as an individual.

What will it cost?
Most people consult on osteopath privately. Telephone local practices to find out about fees in your area. An increasing number of osteopaths work with GP practices so that it may be Possible for your doctor to refer you to an Osteopath on the NHS. Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. Some companies will reimburse the total fee that you have paid to the osteopath, some only a percentage. Mast companies require GP or specialist referral. All insurance companies have help lines to explain your actual benefits and methods of claiming.
Information Courtesy of:
Osteopathic Information Service (Forms part of the General Osteopathic Council) Tel: 020 7357 6655 For Further information visit the website www.osteopathy.org.uk

General Osteopathic Council Osteopathy House 176 Tower Bridge Road London SE1 3LU Tel: 020 7357 6655

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