About Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.osteopath blackheath

Osteopaths 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 facilitate your body’s own healing mechanisms. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.

Your tissues require both a good blood and nerve supply to remain healthy. Osteopathic treatment seeks to improve the circulation of blood and ensure that nerves are not impinged as they leave the spinal column and travel throughout the body. This approach can accelerate healing, alleviate your symptoms and help promote long term health.

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What does an osteopath treat?

The most common conditions that we treat are:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Pelvis, hip and leg problems
  • Knee pain
  • Sports injuries

However, patients have found osteopathy helpful for many other conditions. If you want to find out more please give me a call and I would be happy to discuss your condition further.

Suffering from stress and tension? Stress can often affect your posture and lead to pain in your neck, shoulders and back. Many of us use a computer for hours every day and this can easily lead to poor posture and also contribute to aches and pains in your neck, shoulders and back.

You may get immediate relief from your pain after treatment but unless the predisposing and maintaining factors are discussed and identified the pain is likely to return. Your Osteopath can help you to identify these factors and work with you to address them. Education, exercise and checkups are likely to work best in the long term.

How do osteopaths treat?

Osteopaths usually start any treatment by releasing and relaxing muscles and stretching stiff joints, using gentle massage techniques, rhythmic joint movements and muscle release techniques. The osteopath may also manipulate specific joints. While manipulation can be suitable in a number of different presentations, it is not an essential part of a treatment and other techniques may also be used depending on your problem. This treatment is safe, usually painless and effective, and has minimal side effects which may include some soreness for a few days after treatment.

What should I expect on my first visit?

On your first visit your osteopath will:

  • Take a full medical history, including details of your presenting complaint
  • Palpate tissues above and below the site of pain
  • Examine your posture
  • Observe movements of your spine and the rest of your body
  • Perform special tests to help identify dysfunctional structures and tissues
  • Discuss their findings with you

Treatment options will also be discussed and if osteopathic treatment is suitable, treatment will be aimed at helping to restore normal joint stability and function. If necessary, the osteopath will seek your consent to liaise with your GP to include them in the management of your case.

You may be asked to remove your outer clothing for the examination and treatment, please choose appropriate underwear so that you do not feel uncomfortable. If a patient is uneasy about getting undressed then it can be discussed, and depending on the presenting complaint, ways may be found to avoid getting undressed.

All clinical and personal information is dealt with in the strictest confidence.

How do I know an osteopath is qualified?

All osteopaths must have demonstrated to their registering body – the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) – that they are a safe and competent practitioner. Osteopaths have to train for a minimum of four years. They also have to carry out continuing professional development in order to stay registered. Osteopaths are also required by law to be insured and it is a criminal offence to call yourself an osteopath unless you are registered.

What should I wear?

It is recommended that women bring shorts and either a sports bra or vest top. Men can wear either shorts or modest underwear. This clothing allows an assessment of posture and the performance of stretches and joint releases.

Does it hurt?

All treatment is tailored to suit the individual. Some treatments such as deep tissue massage and connective tissue massage can be uncomfortable. However the amount of pressure used is regularly monitored by the osteopath and the strength of treatment adjusted to suit individual preferences and tolerance levels.

What is the ‘clicking’ sound sometimes experienced?

Joint manipulation is characteristically associated with the production of an audible clicking, some would say cracking, sound. When a manipulation is performed, the applied force separates the joint surfaces of a fully encapsulated synovial joint. This stretches the joint capsule and creates a reduction in pressure within the joint cavity. As a result some of the gases that are dissolved in the synovial fluid leave the solution creating a bubble which rapidly collapses upon itself, resulting in a ‘clicking’ sound.

Does osteopathy cure arthritis?

Osteopathy cannot cure arthritis, but there are many techniques designed to improve and reduce the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.

How many visits will I need?

This will depend on the individual problem and how long it has been present. Most patients feel a change for the better early in the treatment plan. The general rule is that the longer you have had a problem the longer it will take to resolve. Your commitment to the treatment plan, including home exercise and lifestyle alterations will also affect your progress and the long term benefits of osteopathic care. A regular checkup is often recommended.

Do I need to consult my GP first?

There is no need to consult your GP before visiting an osteopath. We do not have the authority to prescribe painkillers or drugs but are allowed to issue ‘off work certificates’ if necessary.