Osteopathy is a method of finding, treating and preventing health problems by using movement based, stretch and manual therapies to muscles and joints. Osteopaths believes that the wellbeing of an individual is reliant on the harmonious function between bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Basing treatment on the principle that treatment should aid in the body healing itself, multiple drug and surgery free methods are used instead.
Patients may consult their osteopath to provide pain relief or provide treatment for injuries, and osteopaths can deliver very effective treatments to help you to rehabilitate certain conditions. One of the basic concepts underpinning osteopathy is to treat the individual in relation to the environmental factors that will influence their health in order to promote the optimum conditions for maintaining good health. In the same way that many people visit their dentist to reduce the likelihood of requiring a filling, occasional check-ups with your osteopath allows potential problems to be detected and treated before they become an issue.
Osteopaths work to restore your body's state of functional balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopathy is a safe, gentle form of manual therapy suitable for patients of any age. Using touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage an osteopath can increase the mobility of joints, relieve muscle tension, enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and help your body’s own healing mechanisms. They may also provide advice on lifestyle, posture and exercise rehabilitation to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring. In any case, early intervention is key and makes a swift and full recovery much more likely, so if you suffer from occasional discomfort, consider consulting an osteopath, as preventative treatment and advice can be a worthwhile investment in your long-term health. Osteopathy can be used alone or as a compliment to other conventional and alternative medical therapies.
The National Institutes of Clinical Excellence advises that GPs can safely refer patients to an osteopath for treatment. Osteopathy is available on the NHS in some areas of the UK.
Saftey and Regulation
Osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is against the law to call yourself an osteopath unless you are qualified and registered with the GOsC. The minimum qualification for an osteopath is completion of a four or five year degree, which includes at least 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice. Many osteopaths also study for masters degrees. They must then continue to update and expand their knowledge by logging a minimum of 30 hours per year of continuing professional development. GOsC can remove an osteopath from the register if they fail to maintain a strict code of professional practice. You can check whether an osteopath is registered by visiting the GOsC website.
Osteopathy is very safe. It is estimated that between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 100,000 patients will suffer a reaction to osteopathic treatment that is serious enough to require further medical treatment or does not resolve within 48 hours.
Conditions treated by Osteopaths
Although osteopaths are well known for treating back pain, the practice of osteopathy can help relieve the symptoms of a wide range of conditions. Osteopaths treat joint pain, neuromuscular conditions, digestive conditions, headaches and sleep problems.