What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a manual therapy which applies knowledge of medical and musculoskeletal applications to help diagnose the root cause of pain and treating it accordingly through using natural therapies.
Osteopaths complete an intensive and rigorous 4-year degree combining theoretical knowledge and clinical experience. During this time, they amass a total of 1,000 clinical hours, treating a variety of patients under the guidance of qualified and experienced Osteopathic tutors.
Our specialist osteopaths use gentle physical manipulation, stretching and various techniques to effectively increase the mobility of joints, relieve muscle tension, enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and enhance your body’s own healing mechanisms.
Advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring is also advised.
Common conditions osteopaths treat
- Acute/chronic back pain
- Arthritic pain
- Frozen shoulder
- Headaches caused by neck pain
- Joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis (oa) as an adjunct to core oa treatments and exercise
- Migraine prevention
- Muscle spasms/tension
- Neuralgia (nerve pain)
- Post-operative rehabilitation
- Sporting injuries
- Tennis/golfers elbow
Osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors: what's the difference?
Osteopathy, along with Physiotherapy and Chiropractic practitioners are collectively known as "Allied Health Professionals" (AHPs). AHPs specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, acute and chronic pain conditions, preventative care and post-operative care. These clinicians provide hands-on treatment consisting of joint or soft tissue manipulation, and exercise rehabilitation, as well as advising on self-help strategies and gaining independence in the aim to promote health in order to prevent illness.
There is a lot of similarity between osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists:
- All treat musculoskeletal pain conditions
- All need to be officially accredited before they can adopt their respective titles
- All have completed extensive studies
Broadly speaking, the main difference between a physiotherapist, a chiropractor and an osteopath comes down to their respective training, philosophies and experiences.
A general (and over-simplified) overview:
- Osteopathy is based on the belief that in order for the body to be healthy, all body tissues are required to move according to their function. If movement is good and balanced, health will follow.
- Osteopaths will use manual, hands on techniques to restore structural alignment with the aim to improve pain and function. They commonly do this with softer techniques than manipulation, but are also experience in manipulating joints to improve function.
- Chiropractors focus on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders with a special emphasis on the treatment of manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.
- No doubt you have seen chiropractors “cracking” necks and backs, known as “manipulation”. Manipulation involves taking joints to the full extent of their natural range. While osteopaths and physiotherapists also perform manipulation, it is generally gentler and not the default treatment as it is with chiropractors.
- Physiotherapists treat the person’s body as a whole: joint mobility, muscle function, nerve function/sensitivity, posture, ergonomics, movement, stress and anxiety, lifestyle advice etc
- Physiotherapists use a variety of methods including manual therapy, movement and exercise, acupuncture, electrical nerve stimulation and ultrasound to treat deep tissue.
In summary, osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists are manual therapists specialising in the treatment and management of musculoskeletal conditions.They accomplish this through a variety of techniques but differ in their personal approaches and experiences in creating an effective treatment plan for their patients.
What to expect from your osteopathy session
An Osteopathy consultation starts with a detailed case history. This is where your clinician will take plenty of time in getting to know you and your goals, and how your condition is affecting you. This all helps your clinician form a diagnosis, which will then guide their clinical examination, which includes orthopaedic testing and the examining of particular movements that you may find restricting. At this point, your clinician will explain to you their findings and what options are available to you.
Techniques an osteopath will use
- Soft Tissue Massage
- Joint and Soft Tissue Articulation/Manipulation
- Exercise and Rehabilitation Prescription
- Kinesiology Taping
- Self-Care Advice (such as hydrotherapy and chronic pain education)
If applicable, your osteopath may refer you to other members of our highly skilled multidisciplinary team to provide a fully comprehensive and integrative treatment plan for your condition. It also may be necessary for us to refer you to a trusted specialist for medical imaging or consultation.