What will happen during my first appointment?
You'll be asked some straightforward questions about your current discomfort and some more detailed questions about your medical history and any medication you might be taking.
You'll then be asked whether you're happy to remove some of your outer clothing so that a careful physical assessment can be carried out involving a series of simple movements and some gentle contact using the hands to assess how your body is functioning. The removal of some of your outer clothing is necessary in order to observe and palpate any dysfunctional areas but this is entirely at your discretion and can be discussed further at the time if you wish. It's helpful if you wear something stretchy to minimise clothing removal and to allow you to move more easily. You may of course bring a friend or relative along to your appointment if it will make you feel more comfortable.
I’ll then give you an explanation as to what the most likely cause of your discomfort is, what treatment is appropriate and the benefits and any potential risks of that treatment. As long as you're clear on everything up to that point and you're happy to go ahead then treatment will begin.
Treatment usually starts with gentle muscle release techniques and rhythmic joint movements to relieve muscular tension, mobilise joints and help your body's own healing mechanisms by boosting the blood and nerve supply to those tissues. A spinal or joint manipulation may also be carried out if appropriate, which is a short, quick movement that helps to restore normal joint function. This will always be discussed with you first and will never be done without prior explanation and your consent.
At the end of the session your treatment and management plan will be discussed which will usually involve giving you some exercises to take away and maybe also some advice as to how you can address the issues in your own time from day to day. In many ways this is the most important part of your treatment and goes to the heart of what osteopathy is all about; to enable you to continue to make progress in your own time and to transfer ownership of your recovery gradually to you over the course of your treatment and management plan. The simple fact is that the patients who follow the rehabilitation advice are usually the ones who recover the fastest and keep future recurrences at bay the longest. You get out what you put in.
How long will my appointment be?
As a new patient your session will take up to one hour and will involve an initial discussion, treatment and then a few minutes at the end to cover your management plan and any relevant exercises and advice you need to take away. Follow up sessions will take about 30 minutes and will be mainly focused on treatment as most of the detailed discussion will already have been done during your initial consultation. At the end of each session we'll take a few minutes to review and make any necessary adjustments to your management plan.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed depends on the individual, the nature of the discomfort, how long symptoms have been present and how much time and effort the patient is willing to invest in their own recovery. It's possible to give a likely recovery time based on experience but everybody responds differently to treatment and not everybody chooses to take a proactive approach in their own time. My aim is not to tie you into a long-term treatment plan; your progress will be discussed and reassessed during each appointment with the objective always being to reduce your reliance on treatment and to give you the means to manage your own recovery and future wellbeing. The patients who put the most in are usually the ones who get the most out.
Will I feel better straight away?
This will depend on the individual and the nature of the discomfort. The majority of patients tend to experience some improvement early on in their treatment and management plan but in general the longer you've been suffering the discomfort the longer it will take to improve substantially. A minority of patients may feel a bit stiff or sore for a day or two after treatment, a feeling similar to post-exercise soreness. This is entirely normal for some patients but please feel free to get in touch if you have any concerns following your appointment.
Is osteopathy safe?
Yes, osteopathy is a non-invasive approach to healthcare involving gentle soft-tissue and mobilisation techniques that have helped many people to overcome pain and discomfort. You'll be given time to explain the nature of your discomfort and how it's impacting your life and individual circumstances. You'll be given an explanation as to what the most likely cause of your discomfort is, what the best treatment options are for you and any potential risks that might be involved. You'll then have the opportunity to discuss any concerns you might have and how your treatment and management plan might be progressed. Nothing will be done without your prior understanding and consent.
Is treatment painful?
No, treatment involves gentle soft tissue and articulatory techniques that are generally quite relaxing and are not usually painful. That said, everybody has a different perception of what's comfortable and what isn't so I'll always ask whether or not the treatment is on the right side of that line for you. Ultimately the most important things are your comfort and wellbeing so don't be afraid to express your thoughts. A minority of patients may feel a bit stiff or sore for a day or two after treatment, a feeling similar to post-exercise soreness. This is entirely normal for some patients but please feel free to get in touch if you have any concerns following your appointment.
Should I take painkillers?
Painkillers can be helpful in the short term but they won't get to the root of the problem and can often have inconvenient side effects such as stomach upset, drowsiness and nausea. It's always beneficial to identify and deal with the underlying issue in order to minimise your current discomfort and prevent any longer-term problems developing.
What qualifications and training does an osteopath have?
Osteopathy stands alongside physiotherapy and chiropractic as a primary healthcare profession and has been fully regulated by the government since the passing of the 1993 Osteopaths Act. It's illegal to practice as an osteopath unless you have completed the 5-year degree course and registered with the General Osteopathic Council, the governing body for osteopaths.
Do I need to talk to my GP first?
Osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners so there's no need to consult your GP before your appointment although you may wish to do so. In fact most GPs will routinely refer their patients to an osteopath if they feel the issue is musculoskeletal in nature and can be managed without the need for medication.
Can an osteopath refer me to another specialist if necessary?
Yes, if appropriate an osteopath can refer patients to another specialist such as an orthopaedic surgeon or a rheumatologist or can refer for imaging such as an x-ray or MRI scan. This can either be done via your GP or directly with the specialist and will only ever be done after first discussing the matter with you and gaining your consent.
Can I have osteopathy during pregnancy?
Yes, osteopathy is safe and gentle and can be highly beneficial during pregnancy as the body goes through a number of physical changes during the term that can cause discomfort. During your initial consultation you'll be asked about the stage of your pregnancy and the various check-ups and scans you have undergone so please make sure you have those details to hand.
Can I have osteopathy after surgery?
Yes, in the majority of cases an osteopath can treat you after surgery, in fact osteopathic treatment can make a significant difference to the speed and quality of your recovery by encouraging the healing and rehabilitation processes along the right lines. In many cases patients have even been able to avoid having surgery in the first place due to having regular treatment that keeps the muscles and joints relaxed, stable and balanced.
Can osteopathy help improve my sports performance?
Yes, depending on what your discipline is we can identify any structural imbalances or weaknesses that might have predisposed you to the issue you’re suffering from. We can then devise a treatment and management plan that will help you recover as quickly as possible and prevent your issue from recurring.
Is osteopathy suitable for children and young people?
Yes, children and young people go through a great deal of physical change as they grow and can often suffer from discomfort, especially if they are playing a lot of sport. The young body is still developing and is more delicate so a more gentle, articulatory approach would be used during treatment. Under 16s must be treated in the presence of a chaperone so please be prepared to accompany your child during the appointment.
What will happen to the information discussed during my appointment?
All information gathered during your initial consultation, subsequent treatments and on-going management is completely confidential. Occasionally it might be necessary to consult your GP or another specialist of some kind but this will only ever be done after first discussing the matter with you and gaining your consent.
Please take a look at the Snowdonia Osteo privacy statement for more information on what personal information is collected, how it's subsequently used, the limited circumstances under which it may be disclosed and how it's kept safe.