This page provides an overview of what osteopathy is and what you can expect when you come for a treatment.
Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.
For your body to work well, its structure must also work well. Osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.
Your osteopath will begin by discussing your problem with you and then a hands on physical examination of revelant areas will be performed. Your osteopath will then discuss the nature of your problem and the best course of action to follow. If a referral to another health professional is necessary then your osteopath will inform you.
Below is a list of techniques that your osteopath may use on you during your treatment;
- Massage - soft tissue massage is a very important component of most treatments. Your muscles dictate the alignment of your skeleton and how it moves. Imbalances in muscular strength and tone will lead to uneven alignment and restriction of movement. It is therefore essential to release your muscular tension in order to restore your skeleton to its optimum alignment. Massage is also used for getting blood flow into the tissues which will promote your body's own healing mechanisms for a quicker recovery. It also feels great!
- Stretching - as mentioned above it is essential to aim for muscular balance. Stretching is very effective for lenghtening your tight, contracted muscles.
- Muscle energy techniques (MET) - this is a more advanced form of stretching. It requires you to perform a gentle contraction of a particular muscle, whilst your osteopath controls the movement of the contraction by providing a little resistance. You will then be asked to repeat the process a few times. This will reset the balance in your muscles, improve your muscle tone, and improve your blood flow.
- Joint mobilisation - these are gentle techniques that are used when there are specific joint restrictions contributing towards your symptoms. Joints can get restricted in all regions of your body, but especially in the spine and somtimes they can be very painful. Trauma or injury, poor posture, imbalanced alignment, muscle spasms, sleeping awkardly or even sudden movements, can all be causes of joints to "get stuck". Your osteopath will apply a gentle form of traction to the specific joint in order for it to release. You may hear a little "pop" sound when the joint releases. This is quite normal and it doesn't hurt, it is only gas being released from the joint.
- Joint articulation - again these techniques are gentle and are applied when joints are restricted. Depending on the location of the joint in your body, your osteopath will take the joint through its normal range of motion, it could be a circular motion or from side to side, in order to reduce any restriction. These techniques also promote blood flow to the area and can have a stretching effect on local tissues.