Osteopathy may help with a variety of medical conditions, including:
- Interview, with thorough history taking.
Your osteopath will ask about your problem and symptoms as well as your medical history, any medications you are taking or other factors that may not appear to be directly related to your problem. Your osteopath will advise you if they can treat you or you need to be referred.
Osteopaths vary in how widely they think about underlying causes; many will consider habitual patterns of body use, psychosocial factors, nutritional factors, past injuries, traumas and illnesses.
- Observation and movement analysis and examination primarily touch (or “palpation”):
This involves in-clinic diagnostic and screening tests, orthopedic or neurological tests, postural assessments and activities or exercises, which will help determine how best to manage your condition. The examination may include passive and active movements where the osteopath may lift your arms or legs and you may be asked to bend over or stand for observation. Be sure to wear comfortable, flexible and appropriate clothing.
Because osteopaths seek to treat the underlying causes of ill health, diagnosis isn’t just a one-off event, but can be a process that continues during the treatment; as different issues are resolved, other underlying causes can become apparent.
- Diagnostic imaging where appropriate.
If required you may be sent for x-rays or referred to your GP or sports physician for a second opinion.
Your Osteopath will provide explanations of what seems to be happening and why (which can be particularly relevant to pain perception). They ask: “how would a body normally resolve this problem; and what is blocking that from happening in this individual at this time?”
- Primarily manual treatment using a range of techniques from different modalities.
Your Osteopath will use the information you have given in your consultation to prescribe a treatment plan that addresses not just the site of pain, but all of the other areas of the body and associated tissues that may be involved. The plan will include attention not just to the joints and their associated soft tissues, but also to the blood supply to the affected areas, the lymphatic drainage and nerve supply in order to include all those factors which will affect the success of healing. It is this "whole body, multi-system" approach that has been the basis of Osteopathy’s success over the last century.
Treatment is highly interactive, and so different practitioners develop their own preferences about which modalities they use more frequently. The techniques overlap those used by other manual or manipulative therapies, but the combination and the approach to clinical reasoning creates a whole greater than the sum of the parts.
- Individualised exercise programs based on functional outcomes, as well as postural and ergonomic advice, or advice on lifestyle in general.
Your osteopath may also provide education and advice to help you manage your condition between treatments. This may include giving you exercises to do at home for stretching or strengthening, or how to achieve a more ergonomic workstation, to maintain a more positive posture and aim to prevent re-injury/re-aggravation.
** People often find it beneficial to have regular treatments in order to maintain their flexibility and relieve pain. Or use Osteopathy as an adjunct to their regular modality of treatment.