24th September 2014

Osteopathy is based on a theory that health and wellbeing can be linked to a person's bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Someone practicing this will help to ensure that they are all functioning well together by moving, stretching or massaging a person's muscles or joints.

What does osteopathy do?
By moving your joints, muscles, ligaments and joints, osteopaths believe that this will encourage the body to heal itself. They often use a range of techniques but do not prescribe drugs or conduct medical procedures such as surgery.

Should I see an osteopath?
Many people that visit an osteopath are worried about pain in their neck, back or shoulder. However, they may also be able to help if you have other problems related to your muscles and joints. Some osteopaths also claim they have the ability to treat a wide range of other conditions from digestive problems to period pain. However, if you are having trouble with these areas, even if you just have back pain, you should see your GP first to make sure there is not an underlying medical issue that could be more serious.

Outside of the US, osteopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), making it different from conventional western medicine. It is common for those practicing osteopathy to use techniques that are not fully based on science or medical research, but some do use conventional medical techniques.

What will an osteopath do? 
As an osteopath aims to restore the normal function and stability of the joints, which they believe helps the body to better heal itself, there can be a range of techniques used. This can range from gentle to fairly forceful techniques, though visiting an osteopath should never be painful.

Among the most common techniques used by osteopaths is massage, which is used to help release and relax the muscles, while other professionals may stretch stiff joints to relieve discomfort or pain. Articulation is also used by some osteopaths and involves having your joints moved through their natural range of motion to help with flexibility. 

Some may also practice high-velocity thrusts, which often cause a clicking noise through short, sharp movements to the spine. Osteopaths believe these techniques can help reduce pain and discomfort, while also improving movement and blood flow.

Osteopathy may cause some discomfort but should not be painful and if you experience any pain during your session you should tell the professional immediately.

How long is an appointment?
Your first appointment may last up to an hour, but subsequent meetings should only last around half of this time.