Does my doctor need to know I am seeing an Osteopath?
Osteopaths are independent healthcare practitioners (rather like a dentist).
Our policy is that it is the patient’s choice if they would like their GP to be informed or not. If examination shows something needs more medical investigation, then of course we contact the GP, usually in writing, with your consent, to request that extra help. It is entirely up to you whether or not to inform your Doctor.
Do I need my Doctor’s permission to see an Osteopath?
No you don’t. No more than you need permission to go to the dentist.
All osteopaths are registered with the General Council and Register of Osteopaths (G.Os.C). Osteopaths are also now, members of the Allied Health Professions Council – just like physiotherapists and radiographers.
If you wish your doctor to be informed of your attendance I would send a brief note.
If you prefer not to say then that is your prerogative and all treatments are confidential. However if it looked as if you really needed medical help then I would say so and encourage consulting your GP.
What happens if you find something unexpected?
That very much depends on what is found. I do my best to explain to my patients what I think is happening that is at the root of their symptoms. It may be that the cause is different from what they have believed for some time, and simply needs to be managed differently.
Occasionally, through taking a thorough case history and examination, it becomes apparent that there is evidence indicating more serious illness or injury which is previously undetected. In that case, I would voice my concerns and in discussion with the patient advise returning to their doctor. And if appropriate, with the patients consent I would write a letter explaining my findings and requesting further investigations.
How many appointments would I need?
That depends entirely on the nature and severity of the presenting problem. There are no set treatment prescriptions – management is always tailored to the individual need of each patient. Some problems may be much improved or even fully resolved with no more than two or three visits. Where there are more complex underlying problems it may take longer. Sometimes it does take a few visits for all of the underlying issues to become clear.
It is always my aim to help patients fully recover and regain an active life. Sometimes where there are long term changes or an occupation contributes to recurring symptoms, I will see patients once every three or four months, or even annually for a check-up. All this is by discussion as suited to the patient’s needs.
Can treatment help if my injury happened many years ago?
Old accidents often leave a ‘footprint’ in the structures of the body’s framework even when the initial pain has completely gone away. The body adapts and accommodates its way of working to include the changes of old injuries. This may result in long-term overstretch of ligaments, for example, or areas of muscle tightening and reduced joint movement.
Those types of changes feed back through the nervous system and become the new ‘normal’. That new normal may place an extra demand on the whole system and gradually lead to altered function and even feeling less energetic.
Osteopathic hands-on examination can often identify old injuries and the alterations they have caused. Improvements and changes back to original function tend to be in proportion to how old the injury is. Rather like re-straightening a bent tree branch, it can be improved with support over time. It’s not always possible to completely turn the clock back but there is often a lot of room for improvement.
Is Cranial Osteopathy only for heads?
What is popularly known as “cranial osteopathy” is an approach to treating all kinds of health issues, in which an understanding of the mechanics of the head and face is included with the rest of the body.
It also uses a particularly gentle and subtle hands-on way of sensing the quality of function in the all of the body. In normal healthy body tissues there is a sense of lively resilience which a trained clinician learns to detect through quiet hands-on sensing. We call this palpation. Where there has been injury or illness the normal quality of ease is changed, and the clinician can recognise that, and using very gentle contact start to induce changes towards improved function.
This quality of resilience is present in the structures of the head, including the brain and its supporting tissues and through the whole body framework.
It is helpful to think of a body as one whole connected structure held open by bones and muscles filled with organs and blood vessels, rather than a series of limbs and compartments that are strung together. So that it’s possible for strains and stresses to have an effect not just locally but also in body areas away from the injured or painful area.
This gentle approach is useful for limbs and joints as well as the spine and ribcage. By helping the body as a whole there can also be improvements in the workings of the inner organs too.
Is it safe for me to visit an Osteopath if I am pregnant?
In a word –yes. If you think you might be pregnant it is important to say so at the assessment. In pregnancy there is a postural adaptation and shape change in mother’s body in response to the growing baby. This places a demand for flexibility in her whole framework. Using suitable gentle hands on work the clinician can help your body ease into the needs of pregnancy and reduce the stresses on the framework which can contribute to making pregnancy feel uncomfortable. Appropriate treatment and suitable exercises can help improve flexibility and readiness for the birth process.
I have taken further education in the care of women during and after pregnancy and have a special interest in helping at this crucial stage of life.
Osteopaths work in collaboration with other health care professionals especially midwives and doctors to help with overall care. The well being of you and your baby are paramount and if there are concerns the osteopath would refer you back to the appropriate clinician.
Whilst mothers frequently seek treatment for the discomforts of pregnancy, it is just as important to be checked after delivery. Giving birth can be strenuous and sometimes strain from the birth process can persist and be uncomfortable and even painful. Osteopathy can help ease those strains so that exercises work better and you can start to feel like your ‘real self’ again.
Can I see an Osteopath if I’m seeing other health professionals as well
E.g. A Physiotherapist?
If you are seeing another professional that does bodywork such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor, and you want a second opinion on your condition, and to find out if there are further treatment options, then I would see you for a consultation and examination, and would explain what I find and what I would do about it.
It is not usually advisable to follow two courses of physical treatment at the same time because it becomes impossible to distinguish which effects come from which treatment.
You would have to weigh up the information and choose your course of action.
Can you do home visits?
Yes, these are offered for emergencies when a patient is bed-bound or unable to move because of acute pain and travel to the clinic.
I will see patients within a ten mile radius of the practice.
I do charge a ‘Travel-fee’ to cover the extra time it takes to drive to and from the appointment.
Does osteopathy hurt, during or after treatment?
On the whole osteopathic treatment is not painful and patients usually find it rather pleasant. It is my aim to make treatment as comfortable as possible. Just occasionally one may find a very tender spot or an area may react unexpectedly with reactive soreness. Very occasionally soreness may occur after a treatment – but that usually settles in two or three days. If not then a brief return to check or settle a reaction at no charge is always offered.
How do I know if osteopathy is right for me?
To find out if osteopathy could help your problem you could initially just call the practice and have a brief conversation to see if Osteopathy regularly helps with your kind of problem. To find out in detail what is causing your symptoms and for a trial of treatment you would have to make an appointment for a consultation and examination.
Then I would explain what I found and what might be done for it.
How does osteopathy relate to Physiotherapy and Chiropractic?
All three professions address many of the same problem areas, especially in musculo-skeletal function. So there is some overlap and some differences in approach to treatments given and ways of working. Osteopaths have a very specific skill in detecting tissue strains by touch. We are trained to be primary healthcare practitioners and have a legal right to diagnose our patients ourselves. Osteopaths give hands-on treatment which is their particular skill and may incorporate exercises and advice and lifestyle management. Osteopathy is about treating not only the part that hurts or is causing problems but in relieving any contributing strains and stresses which are keeping the body from working really well.
Some physiotherapists are trained to diagnose, and may work using mechanical treatments such as ultrasound, or electrotherapy and exercises. Physiotherapists will be part of a team helping with basic rehabilitation after surgery in hospitals.
Chiropractors also use hands-on techniques which differ mainly in style from that used in osteopathy.
Does the ‘Os’ in Osteopathy mean it’s mainly for treating bones and joints?
When the inventor of osteopathy Dr. Andrew Taylor Still announced his name for his new therapeutic approach he called it “Osteopathy” intending that to mean start with the bones and then go on to work with everything else!
Osteopaths are often consulted for joint and muscular conditions, especially backpain. It forms a very large part of practice. This is because backpain affects a lot of people and is the second commonest reason for time-off work nationally.
The training for osteopaths covers the structure and function of the spine in great detail. A lot of time is given to learning a wide range of hands-on techniques for improving the mobility of all parts of the spine and pelvis so that clinician have a choice of techniques and can choose ones that are suited to each patient.
But the principles of osteopathy are to take into consideration just how well everything around a painful part is working and if it getting the biological help it needs it the form of good circulation and nerve supply so that the building blocks of tissue repair can be delivered to an ailing body.
In short –It’s much more than just bones - it starts with bones and includes the whole patient.