Osteopathy, what is it?

Osteopathy is the practice of evaluating and treating a broad range of health problems that patients may present with. Some people reach out to an osteopath due to sustained injuries, aches or pain, while others have health questions or concerns that they would like a health professional to assess. Your Osteopath should take time to listen to and understand what you present with, take a thorough medical history and consider your symptoms. This will allow them to form a diagnosis and treatment plan, or in some cases, referral to other health professionals such as radiologists, GPs and midwives.

Osteopaths aim to facilitate the body in its own ability to restore function and health. This is often achieved by combining manual hands-on treatment with looking at lifestyle and environmental factors, physical habits and diet. When treating, osteopaths will frequently use a combination of hands-on techniques such as joint mobilisations, manipulations, targeted deep tissue massage, stretching, medical acupuncture, k-taping, and movement guidance with the aim to restore function and relieve pain. These techniques target soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, joints and fascia, and can improve health in the circulatory and immune systems. Osteopathy is often complimentary to other interventions such as surgery, or following childbirth.

What do we treat?

Osteopaths are most commonly known for treating musculoskeletal conditions such as shoulder, neck or back pain, minor sports injuries, strains and posture or work-related issues. Many people also seek osteopathic treatment when the body is under extra strain such as during and after pregnancy, with ageing or post-operatively. An overview of what osteopaths treat can be found on the iO’s website.

What to expect during a consultation

Your Osteopath will begin by asking you questions about your presenting symptoms, your medical history and your lifestyle. Your answers will help your osteopath understand the whole picture, which will help them form an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. What you talk about will be noted in your medical records. These will be treated as strictly confidential in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and as set out by the General Osteopathic Council’s standards of practice.

You will then be examined physically, which can involve undressing some of your clothes so that the skin is exposed. It is recommended that you bring shorts if you are not comfortable with undressing to your underwear. Your osteopath may perform orthopaedic tests and ask you to do certain movements that look at the function of muscles and joints, or examine your body with their hands while you sit or rest in a relaxed position.