What happens on my first visit to an osteopath?
A first consultation with an osteopath is similar to that with any Registered Medical Practitioner. The osteopath will want to know how the symptoms began and the factors that affect them. They will ask a series of questions, which may at the time seem irrelevant. The answers to these questions will enable your osteopath to build a detailed picture of you and provide a diagnosis for your problem that is unique to you. The osteopath will take a complete medical history, when previous illnesses, injuries, current treatments and medication will be noted.
Initial examination by your osteopath: After the case history, you will generally be asked to remove some clothing so that a detailed functional and structural assessment can be made. This will include a static evaluation and simple mobility testing to assess how your whole body relates to your complaint. An osteopath is qualified to carry out a conventional examination and to reach a diagnosis, so they may decide to make an orthopaedic, neurological or circulatory examination. X-rays, blood tests or urine analyses may be requested as well. This part of the examination is very important because patients may not have seen their doctor beforehand. An osteopath is trained to identify any condition, which might require other treatment or referral to the patient’s general practitioner.
From the outset of their training the osteopath develops a highly tuned sense of touch in his fingers. They will make an assessment of the patient’s posture and structural state and conduct a detailed examination by touch. The osteopath will examine the condition of the soft tissues, the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue to see whether they feel normal or under stress. In this way the osteopath builds up a structural survey of the patient to find any alteration from the optimal structural and mechanical function for that individual.
Once the steps outlined above are complete, your osteopath will decide whether treatment is appropriate for you. You may ask any questions which will help you to understand your diagnosis and treatment.
How do osteopaths treat their patients?
Osteopaths work with their hands, but there is no standardised treatment for any condition. Just as different doctors may prescribe different tablets for the same condition, so different osteopaths may employ different techniques according to their experience and expertise and to the individual needs of that patient.
Osteopaths use a wide variety of treatment methods from soft tissue massage and passive repetitive stretching movements, to the high velocity thrust technique that can cause a joint to click. Gentle release techniques and cranial osteopathic techniques are used, particularly when treating the very young or elderly patients.
The treatment programme may include advice on posture, diet, lifestyle, or stress, as all of these may have contributed to the problem. Instead of treating symptoms, the osteopath is attempting to remove mechanical and other problems that can hinder the body’s natural ability to repair itself.
Osteopathic treatment is seldom painful and osteopaths will use the gentlest techniques for the case. Patients generally find treatment to be pleasant and relaxing.
Do I need a referral from my GP?
Since 1974 the General Medical Council has permitted doctors to refer patients to practitioners outside the medical profession provided that they retain ultimate responsibility and have confidence in the practitioner’s competence. The standard of training laid down by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) gives its members the competence, which the medical profession expects.
The practice has a good relationship with local members of the medical profession and we will be happy to work with your doctor to establish the best course of action, though it is not necessary for your doctor to be informed that you are attending.
If you require treatment covered by Health Insurance, a GP referral may be necessary, so please check this with your insurance company.
How much will I have to pay for treatment?
Osteopathic treatment in this area is not yet available under the National Health Service. Fees vary between practitioners and from area to area. The osteopath will be pleased to tell you his scale of fees before you decide on a consultation.