Osteopathy is an holistic healthcare approach based on an established system of clinical diagnosis
Osteopathy is based on the principle that the function (physiology) and structure (anatomy) of the body are inter-connected – for the body to work well the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues need to work smoothly together.
Focusing on the structure of the body, an osteopath will use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. The aim is to restore the body to a state of balance, where possible without drugs or surgery. Treatment is tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient – at all stages of life from birth to old age. An osteopath may also provide advice on lifestyle issues, diet and exercise.
Osteopaths treat the person, not just the disorder, and the objective is the promotion of long-term health.
Osteopathy can help provide relief for the body’s structural, mechanical and functional problems in people of all ages helping to relieve patients from different types of pain and a variety of conditions such as:
- Arthritic Pain
- Back pain (general, acute and chronic – not arising from injury/accident)
- Circulatory problems
- Digestion problems
- Frozen shoulder / shoulder and elbow pain / tennis elbow (arising from musculoskeletal conditions)
- Headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic)
- Joint pains, including hip and knee pain linked to osteoarthritis
- Inability to relax
- Migraine prevention
- Minor sports injuries and tensions
- Muscle spasms
- Neck Pain
- Rheumatic pain
- General reduction in flexibility and movement
However, giving a list of conditions that osteopaths help treat can sometimes give a false picture. Osteopaths treat people, not conditions, and we are able to help in many ways when a person’s function is affected by their structure, however that manifests. Osteopathy can help people of all ages recover from all types of pain, including those occurring as a result of minor sports injuries or due to changes to the body during pregnancy.
An osteopath will begin by asking about your health and medical history. This will be followed by a physical examination, which pays particular attention to your posture, gait, mobility and musculoskeletal anatomy. You may be asked to undress to your underwear for the examination stage.
Following diagnosis, a treatment and management plan will be discussed and agreed with you. Treatment techniques could include massage, articulation, lymphatic drainage, manipulation of joints or gentle balancing techniques and cranial osteopathy. Osteopaths are also trained to identify conditions they cannot treat and in some circumstances may refer you to your GP, or another health professional, or recommend further investigation such as ultrasound or MRI scanning.
Statutory recognition was achieved with the passage of the Osteopaths Act in 1993, thereby making osteopathy the first complementary healthcare profession to be accorded a statutory regulated framework. In the same year the British Medical Association recognised osteopathy as being a “discrete clinical discipline”. In 2017, Osteopathy was formally recognised by NHS England as an Allied Health Profession.
The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) was formed to set standards of training, professional and ethical conduct for the whole profession, visit osteopathy.org.uk for more details. Only those who can satisfy the new GOsC’s requirements are admitted to its register and entitled to call themselves “osteopaths”. Thus, a patient consulting a fully qualified osteopath is afforded the same safeguards as when visiting a doctor or any other statutory regulated healthcare professional.
The history of Osteopathy can be traced to the original discoveries and experiences of its American founder, Dr Andrew Taylor Still (1828 – 1917) and to a time when medicine itself was in its infancy. Dr Still recognised that the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the body were interlinked and that their reciprocal relationship was vital to the physical and mental well-being of the human body. Since those early beginnings osteopathy has evolved into a modern, regulated, mainstream healthcare field with an evolving research community adding to its evidence base.