The first question I ask new patients that come through my door is, “Have you seen an osteopath before?” If the answer is no, then my follow up question is, “do you know what osteopathy is?” I am constantly surprised at how many people answer no to this question, or are at least unsure. This is our fault as a profession, because there are thousands of osteopaths in the UK who go about working silent miracles on their patients every day, and we should be doing a better job at explaining how we can help you. In this article I want to do just that, explain to you a little bit about who we are and why you should consider finding out who your local osteopath is so they can help you and your loved ones.
- What are osteopaths?
Osteopaths are Allied Healthcare Practitioners and primary healthcare practitioners who specialise in the musculoskeletal system. For those of you who aren’t sure what primary healthcare practitioners are, they are healthcare specialists who can be your first port of call for your every day medical problems. Our training lasts 4-5 years and during that time we learn physiology, pathology, anatomy, clinical medicine and technique. It's because of this training we’re capable of giving you a working diagnosis for your complaint. On the occasions where we're unable to, most osteopaths have a network of other medical professionals who they can refer you on to so that you can find out exactly what your specific ailment may be as quickly as possible and you continue to receive the highest standard of care.
2. What should I expect in an osteopathic consultation?
Because of our ability to diagnose, osteopaths need to take a detailed case history as well as will ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history and your daily habits and/or routines. We do this because not only do we want to find out what is going on, but perhaps more importantly why it is happening so that we can make sure that once we’ve got you better, you stay that way. Once we have worked out what is happening, we use a variety of different manual therapy techniques to treat you. Some of these techniques include high velocity thrusts (also known as manipulations or adjustments), articulation of joints and soft tissue work (massage) to name but a few. It’s important that you know that you are always in control of what techniques we use. Whilst we screen you for every single technique we use so that we know that it is safe, we also are aware that you may be nervous, especially in your first session. If you’re nervous or unsure, or simply don’t want us to do a certain technique, just let us know. We have plenty of tools to help you at our disposal and we will find one that you are happy with.
3. Why would I see an osteopath?
The first and most obvious is if you’re in pain that is related to the musculoskeletal system. This means if you have discomfort in your muscles, connective tissue, joints, ligaments, tendons and/or bones then there is a strong chance we can help you on your path to being pain free. Another reason is the speed at which we can see you. The majority of people who want to see an osteopath can be seen within a few days. So if you’re in agony because of back pain, or are unsure how to sort out your sprained ankle, then osteopathy is for you as we can see you quickly, give you a diagnosis and help begin to alleviate that pain of yours.
However you don’t have to wait until you’re in pain to see your osteopath. Some of my patients choose to come in every couple of months just for a check up. We will assess and find points of restriction and remove them before they become painful.
4. I’ve seen manual therapists before for my pain and it’s always come back? Why is osteopathy different?
It’s this part that makes me love my job more than anything. Our role is not just to help reduce your pain, our main role is to help you build a healthier relationship and understanding of your body. It’s easy to think that we’re starting to fall apart or something is drastically wrong when we experience pain. “Have I done permanent damage?” “Do I have to live with this forever?” and “Why now?” are all common questions that I get asked in clinic. Our job is to allay your concerns by explaining clearly what is happening in as simple a way as possible,and then give you the education and tools (through advice and exercises) to try and limit as much as possible the chances of your complaint happening again. There is a reason why people walk away from an osteopathy session with that feel good feeling. It’s not just because we’ve helped get rid of their pain, it’s because they walk away (when they might have hobbled in) with a feeling of empowerment. You will know what has happened, why it has happened, how to help prevent it from happening again, but perhaps most significantly you won’t worry if it happens again, as you will know what to do to get better. Who doesn't love the feeling of empowerment?
If you would like to find out more about osteopathy and how we can help you, please feel free to give us a call or perhaps book in for one of our free 15 minute consultations?
0208 088 0533