“Let us not be governed today by what we did yesterday, nor tomorrow by what we do today, for day by day we must show progress.”
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 recognize fully that the relationship between the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the body are interdependent and that this reciprocal relationship is 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.
Using their hands, osteopaths apply a range of techniques to help reduce pain, increase joint mobility, relieve muscle tension and enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, helping the body’s own healing mechanism.
Osteopaths assess their patients as unique individuals, reviewing all aspects of their symptoms. A detailed case history is taken during the first consultation, followed by a thorough physical and clinical examination to identify the patient’s problems, including any diseases that might be responsible for their symptoms. The osteopath will explore factors such as the patient’s mobility, posture and general state of well-being and may also consider lifestyle factors, levels of activity, dietary preferences and levels of stress; after investigation and arriving at a working diagnosis, the osteopath will discuss their findings with the patient and agree on a treatment and management regime; patients may be referred to another healthcare professional or to their GP.
Working with their hands, osteopaths apply a range of techniques to help reduce pain, increase mobility, relieve muscle tension and enhance circulation. This potentially helps the patient’s own healing mechanism to work more efficiently and promotes recovery. Osteopaths help provide relief from structural, mechanical and functional problems in people of all ages and achieve this by restoring the body’s equilibrium and balance. This may be achieved through the use of osteopathic treatment or through exercise and lifestyle recommendations.
Osteopaths can help patients with a variety of conditions such as:
• Muscle spasms
• Minor sports injuries
• Arthritic pain
• Back and neck pain
• Frozen shoulder
Many osteopaths help treat patients throughout their pregnancies to help relieve the symptoms induced by altered posture and weight-bearing and may 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.
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/shorts and T-shirt in order for the osteopath to carry out a thorough examination. This will allow for an assessment 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.
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.