What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a ‘hands on’, primary healthcare form of treatment (does not require referral), that is suitable for people of all ages and can positively contribute to alleviating and reducing symptoms a vast array of complaints resulting from muscle, ligament, nerve and joint aches and pains.

Osteopaths use a variety of treatments to help restore the body’s equilibrium, to ease pain, reduce swelling and improve mobility. And we treat more than just backs! (See below)

How does it work?

Osteopaths treat musculo-skeletal problems holistically (wholly), not solely work areas that may be giving you pain or discomfort, Osteopaths do not just ‘rub the sore bit’, their philosophy is to identify the reasons why they started originally, in order to solve the issue, prevent recurrence or, significantly decrease the frequency of a historical problem.

There are a vast array of ‘hands on’ treatments in the osteopathic ‘toolkit’, these focus on direct treatment, soft tissue massage, manipulations, Muscle Energy Techniques as examples, to the indirect treatments of cranial(-sacral) therapy, Balanced Ligamentous Tension, Functional Technique and so on.


Dr Andrew Taylor Still, an Illinois born medical doctor, was first recorded using the term ‘osteopathy’in 1874. He described it as “a scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology in the hands of a person of intelligence and skill, who can apply that knowledge to the use of man when sick or wounded by strains, shocks, falls, or mechanical derangement or injury of any kind to the body.” Over a hundred years on, osteopaths still embody the key concept of detailed anatomical study, not only the muscles, skeleton and nerves, but embryology, pathophysiology (what happens when things go awry in the body) and the bio-phyco-social context of the individual person, amongst others – we really invest in getting to the root of the problem!

Around 30,000 people currently consult osteopaths every working day. 54% of new patients are seen within one working day after contacting the osteopath; 95% are seen within one week. (GOsC, 2006).

The Ashfield Practice discharges 74% patients in 4 appointments or less. 33% of our patients come for advice on lower back pain, but as you will see below, we treat so much more (data taken since 2007).

What training do osteopaths have:

Four years at a minimum of full time study. Study includes in-depth anatomical, neurological and pathological study. After the osteopath qualifies, they have to complete a minimum of 30 hours of osteopathic related training (CPD-continuous professional development) to maintain their licence to practice.

What do osteopaths treat?

  • Neck (including whiplash), upper back (including ribs) and lower back pain (including “Sciatica”).
  • Jaw pain and some types of headaches.
  • Upper limb pain – Shoulder, elbow and hand pain can all be assessed by your osteopath; we really do treat more than just backs!
  • Lower limb pain – The pelvis hip, knee, ankle and foot are the joints of the lower limb and can cause pain if they or the surround soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) are not working well together and can sometimes cause back pain.
  • Sports related injuries.
  • Pregnancy related musculoskeletal symptoms.
  • Children and babies.
  • Work related stresses and strains, including postural advice.
  • Systemic related musculoskeletal pain such as, osteo (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) – we don’t treat the underlying cause, but can in some case make you feel better by supporting your musculo-skeletal system.

What to expect at your first consultation

CASE HISOTRY: A full and comprehensive case history will be taken at your first appointment,not only details of your presenting symptoms, but finding out about your medical history and current systemic health as these can be interrelated.

EXAMINATION: Next we will exam the site pain or discomfort and relevant related areas that maybe associated to this. This will include an active examination where you will be asked to move your spine, arms and so on and a passive examination where you can relax on the plinth as your osteopath tests range of motion and tissue quality. Your osteopath may also conduct a series of clinical neurological tests.

DIAGNOSIS: Combining the information from your case history and your physical examination your osteopath will give you their diagnosis of what they believe to be the dysfunction (the what), the cause of the dysfunction (the why)and their suggestion of suitable treatments specific to you, finally a guide of how many sessions you should expect to resolve/minimise your symptoms will be provided. The aim is to get you better as soon as possible with a combination of treatments and “mini-treatments” (see below) that you can do at home. Some conditions that are more complex, symptoms in multiple sites or those chronic in nature may require an ongoing treatment plan, but your osteopath will do what they can to keep these to a minimum whilst you get back to your normal level of function.

TREATMENT: If we believe your systems are to come from the musculo-skeletal system and you are otherwise safe for treatment, your osteopath will discuss suitable treatments available and consistently confer back with you as to pressure used so you are put in a minimal amount of discomfort during a time when we will be focusing on a particularly painful/uncomfortable area.

MINI-TREATMENTS/AFTER CARE: Many osteopaths like to also give after care advice, at the end of your treatment, which will mimic some of the treatment you’ve just had, which will help you, get better, faster.

How many follow up appointments will you need:

Until you have been examined it is impossible to answer this question as there are many variables, such as the type of condition, your current health, age, diet, lifestyle etc., but rest assured you will be given an idea of how many appointments it will take in your initial consultation.

All treatments have two goals, ‘first-aid’ to the sore area and aiming to resolve the reason why things got so bad (more relevant in chronic cases) and this need not take many appointments because both of these are done at the same time. Osteopaths re-exam at each appointment and this gives them the clinical insight into how you are improving, for example, increase range of movement and decreasing pain.

There is no pressure and no need to “bulk buy” appointments, your progression will be discussed at each treatment.

What to expect at any follow up appointments:

Now we have your full medical history, your next consultation will start with a few basic questions such as how did you feel after your last treatment, this guides your osteopath if they can use stronger more direct techniques, or if your body responds better to gentle rhythmic treatment, we are all completely different! Your osteopath will also talk about changes in things that previously aggravated your symptoms. We will discuss how you got on with your mini-treatments; we can tweak them, your osteopath wants to get and aftercare advice just right for you. You will be re-examined to illicit and structural changes and then treatment will commence.

What to bring…

If you have any pre-diagnosed medical conditions it is useful to see these from your doctor or specialist, for instance if you have a report from an MRI/X-ray and so on.

It can be very useful as part of the examination to have access to seeing the area of discomfort/pain and any areas your osteopath believes maybe related to these symptoms to assess any signs of skin changes (colour/dimpling/temperature), muscle bulk, smoothness of movement and so on, can tell us a lot about what is going on underneath the skin. Therefore it may be helpful to observe these areas with the patient wearing modest underwear. Some patients may wish to bring shorts or a crop top if they feel more comfortable with these.

Patients can be examined in their clothes as long as they understand the aforementioned signs will not be able to be observed, the extra information is helpful, but we can work around things.

Will I get clicked?

Not necessarily. Osteopathic manipulation can be a valuable in certain circumstances, but is not by any means required. If you do not wish to have a manipulation, let me know, we have other osteopathic solutions!

“Clicking” aka manipulation or HVT is not crunching bones on bone, but release restrictions and bubbles of gas that can get built up in the joint space.

At any rate, you are in complete control of what treatment you receive and if you don’t want a particular type of treatment, your wishes are completely respected; there are many ways to achieve the same outcome using other osteopathic techniques!

Do you treat using cranial osteopathy?

Yes, both children and adults using these osteopathic techniques. Cranial osteopathy is gentle and painless, using subtle movements to remove tensions and strains in the body. Although the treatment usually involves treatment via the cranium, head, these highly specialised skills can be utilised in all areas of the body, commonly the sacrum (tailbone). The treatment can be so calm and relaxing that some patients fall asleep, it happens more than you think. Some people can feel a little tired or thirsty after treatment.

How will I feel after treatment?

This varies from person to person. Sometimes patients will feel an immediate increased range in movement and release in tense muscles, other times it may take a day or two to feel the full affect of treatment. Some patients can feel thirsty after treatment and some patients can feel very tired. We will discuss all major possible outcomes with you during your consultation and offer you after-care advice/mini-treatments to help minimise your symptoms of treatment.

How long are appointments?

Adult first appointments last up to an hour, a follow up is 30minutes.

A child’s first appointment will last up to 45minutes and follow ups are generally around 20minutes – they have a lot less history, usually!

Can I claim on my medical insurance?

It depends! Speak your insurer first to check you have cover for osteopathic treatment. If they do, you will be provided with a receipt at the end of each appointment which you can use to claim back your payment treatment fees. We cannot unfortunately be invoiced by your insurer directly.

Lucy Osborne-Kirby is affiliated with Aviva, AXA PPP, Prudential, Simply Health.

What happens if I need to cancel my appointment?

We understand that unforeseen problems can occur which unable you to attend your booked appointment, if you find that yourself in this position we are happy to reschedule your appointment if a minimum of 24 hours notice is given, at no cost. This will enable us to reallocate that time to another patient who may be in urgent need of help if there is a waiting list for that day. We reserve the right to charge the full cost of treatment for any/all appointments that are missed.

Lucy Osborne-Kirby
phone: 01249659749 / 01373228841
email: lucy@chippenhamosteopath.co.uk
web: www.ashfieldpractice.co.uk

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