Osteopathy is a distinct approach to healthcare based on the original discoveries and experiences of its American founder Dr Andrew Taylor Still (1828 – 1917).Dr Taylor Still was the first physician to recognise fully that the relationship between the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the body are interdependent and that this reciprocal relationship is vital to physical and mental well-being of the human body.Using their hands, osteopaths apply a range of techniques to help reduce pain, increase joint mobility, relieve muscle tension and to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, helping the body’s own healing mechanism. The emphasis is on treating the individual, taking all their circumstances into account, rather than just treating the condition. They may also provide advice on lifestyle issues, diet and exercise.
The teaching at the ESO has the broad aim of producing osteopaths with a holistic approach, able to apply a spectrum of techniques in the treatment of patients with a range of conditions.
People of all ages consult osteopaths for all sorts of reasons:
- Back and neck pain,
- Sports injuries,
- Changes in posture due to pregnancy
Most osteopaths are self-employed within the private sector, either in their own practice or as an associate in someone else’s practice.
A small but increasing number work in the NHS.
What do osteopaths help treat? Osteopaths can help patients with a variety of conditions such as:
- Muscle spasms
- Sports injuries
- Arthritic pain
- Back pain
- Frozen shoulder
Many osteopaths help treat patients throughout their pregnancies to help relieve the symptoms induced by altered posture and weight bearing and many also help treat babies; babies’ skeletons are softer than an adult’s and osteopaths will, therefore, use gentler techniques such as cranial osteopathy when treating babies.
Giving a list of conditions that osteopaths help treat can sometimes give a false picture. Osteopaths treat people, not conditions and osteopaths are able to help in many ways when a person’s function is affected by their structure, however that manifests.
Is Osteopathy Regulated?
Professional accreditation In the United Kingdom, osteopathy became a profession governed by statute in 1993. The governing body set up as a result of this statute is the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and all osteopaths practising in the UK must be registered with them. The GOsC promotes patient safety by registering qualified professionals and setting, maintaining and developing standards of osteopathic training and practice. Further information is available at www.osteopathy.org.uk. The ESO’s Integrated Masters Degree programme is accredited by the GOsC and, therefore, all ESO graduates are eligible for registration with them. Professional accreditation In the United Kingdom, osteopathy became a profession governed by statute in 1993. The governing body set up as a result of this statute is the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and all osteopaths practising in the UK must be registered with them. The GOsC promotes patient safety by registering qualified professionals and setting, maintaining and developing standards of osteopathic training and practice. Further information is available at www.osteopathy.org.uk. The ESO’s Integrated Masters Degree programme is accredited by the GOsC and, therefore, all ESO graduates are eligible for registration with them.
What Should Osteopathic Patients Expect?
The osteopath will spend time at the initial visit taking a detailed case history. This will involve asking questions about the patient’s current symptoms, and also about their general medical history. The patient will usually be asked to undress to their underwear in order for the osteopath to carry out a thorough examination. This will allow a diagnosis and treatment plan to be devised tailored to their needs. Treatment can include a range of stretching, mobilizing and manipulative techniques designed to help restore normal function and to facilitate the body’s own healing process. The osteopath will explain what will be involved in any treatment.
Does Treatment Hurt?
Osteopathic treatment is not usually painful, although the nature of some conditions is such that some discomfort may be induced. Many techniques are extremely gentle. In devising a treatment plan, the osteopath will take into account the nature of the symptoms and also the patient’s concerns. The osteopath will not perform a technique unless the patient is happy for him/her to proceed. Some patients are anxious about the “cracking” of joints. These are known as “High Velocity Thrust” (HVT) techniques and are an effective way of mobilizing a joint that is not moving very well. Again, the osteopath will only proceed with such a technique when it is appropriate to do so and with the patient’s permission.
Does an Osteopathic Patient need to be referred by a GP?
It is not necessary for a patient to be referred by their GP as appointments can be made direct with an osteopath. However, the patient may like to see their GP in the first instance if they have concerns. If the osteopath feels it is necessary for a patient to see his/her GP then they will advise them as such and, with the patient’s permission, may also contact the GP themselves to let them have details of examination findings or to request further information.