Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of 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 tissue functioning smoothly together.
An initial consultation with an osteopath includes the taking of a full medical case history and thorough examination. This allows the osteopath to screen for potential red flags that require referral for further investigation. An experienced osteopath uses palpation and detailed functional biomechanical evaluation to determine whether somatic dysfunction exists. This somatic dysfunction is defined as tissue texture changes, asymmetry, restricted range of movement and tenderness. If somatic dysfunction exists the osteopath directs treatment towards the cause of that dysfunction. Osteopathy understands that no two cases are the same and that each case must therefore be treated on its own merits, and to reassess, re-evaluate the patient each time he/she is treated.
Treatment is primarily “hands-on” and include; soft-tissue treatment, joint articulation, myofascial release techniques, strain-counterstrain, cranio-sacral techniques and neuromuscular inhibition techniques and when appropriate joint manipulation techniques. Advice on posture and exercise may be provided to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms from recurring.
The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC www.osteopathy.org.uk) regulates the practice of osteopathy in the UK. By law all osteopaths must have completed a four/five year bachelor or masters degree in osteopathy and be registered with the GOsC who also set the standards of osteopathic education and requires qualified osteopaths to update their training throughout their working lives.
Evidence for osteopathy’s efficacy has been growing over recent years. World-wide, osteopathic researchers have been working hard to inform practitioners on best practice, focussing on “evidence based medicine”.
In 2004 the UK Back Pain, Exercise and Manipulation (UK BEAM) randomised trial looked at how a package of care involving one or a combination of treatments approaches could improve lower back pain in patients, concluded that a combination of spinal manipulation and exercise was beneficial. In 2005 a review of the current research for spinal manipulation concluded that osteopathic manipulative therapy significantly reduced lower back pain.
In the last 10 years research focussing on some specific sporting injuries has proved osteopathic treatment to be effective in treating swollen and painful acute ankle injuries, Elbow tendonitis, leg and pelvic joint dysfunction. Due to these facts and anecdotal clinical feedback osteopaths are increasingly joining sports medicine teams at amateur and professional levels.
The latest guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advise that the early management of persistent low back pain should include manual therapy, namely osteopathy.
- Consider offering a structured exercise programme tailored to the individual that may include exercises to strengthen muscles, improve posture and stretching
- Consider offering a course of manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, spinal mobilisation and massage. Treatment may be provided by a range of health professionals including chiropractors, osteopaths, manipulative physiotherapists or doctors who have had specialist training.
Conditions we treat
The most common conditions that we treat are:
• back and neck pain
• shoulder and arm problems
• pelvis, hip and leg problems
• sports and other injuries
However, patients have found osteopathy helpful for many other conditions.
Osteopathic Sports Care Association OSCA, www.osca.org.uk was founded 15 years ago and is Europe’s largest sports care association for complementary medical practitioners.