What to expect when visiting an Osteopath

Written by Laura, who has a Masters from the British School of Osteopathy and she is currently studying medicine at Southampton University. Whilst at the British School she was introduced to Cranial Osteopathy and after completing her Masters attended the Sutherland Cranial College to extend her skill and knowledge base Laura is registered with General Osteopathic Council and a member of the British Osteopathic Association.


Southampton OsteopathyWhat to expect when visiting an Osteopath

Osteopaths are musculoskeletal specialists; they have a very detailed knowledge of the anatomy of the entire body with particular emphasis on the joints, bones, and muscles. Osteopaths are particularly interested in movement patterns and how the body functions as a whole. Using holistic concepts they can solve biomechanical issues causing pain or stiffness in the context of a person’s general health and well being.

Osteopaths treat a wide range people for many different reasons. The most common reason for visiting an osteopath is usually because of pain especially if it is impacting on the daily activities of living.  Sometimes people will be referred by massage therapists particularly if that person’s symptoms keep returning or do not respond to massage therapy. The osteopath will seek to solve the underlying issue causing the pain or tension and address the root cause.

When you visit an osteopath they will first conduct a case history in which they will ask you in detail about your symptoms and how they began. They will also be interested to know which activities, movements, or positions ease or worsen your symptoms as this allows them to work out which structures might be causing the issue. Your past medical history will also be relevant as old injuries and current medical conditions can contribute to symptoms. They will then ask questions relating to the different systems of your body such as your digestive and circulatory system, this might seem unrelated but it is wise to check the symptoms are of mechanical origin and not from somewhere else that might require referral to a Doctor.  This also allows them to gage the level of your general health so they can give you an idea of how long it might take to get better.

The osteopath will then ask you to undress to your underwear or to a level you a comfortable with this allows them to look at the shape of your spine assess symmetry of the body. You may then be asked to do some movements such as bending forward or leaning to the side, this allows movement patterns and restrictions to be indentified. The osteopath will then ask you to lie down on the couch and will examine you passively assessing the tone of the muscles and how well the joints move. Once the osteopath has completed the examination they will explain what they think is causing the symptoms and may also identify other features that are compounding the problem. If they believe they can help they will explain what they propose to do and how it will help. Rarely the person will need to be referred to a GP for medical investigation, imaging, or more invasive treatment.

Treatment is tailored to the individual, some of the techniques that may be used may include forms of massage, stretching the muscles, or articulating the joints. The osteopath may also ask to ‘click or ‘release’ a joint to help it move better. Treatment is gentle and not painful as it is more effective if the person is able to relax. The osteopath will always work within the person’s natural range of movement and seek to avoid causing pain. During the treatment they will also discuss lifestyle and possible changes that can be made to relive symptoms and stop the issue returning. At the end of the treatment exercises or stretches may be given if they are appropriate.

Book in with Laura or Sally at the YOU Massage Southampton studio by calling 02380 639747


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