Do I need a referral from my GP?
The simple answer to this is no, although many patients are referred to osteopaths by their GP. At times, it may be necessary for your osteopath to communicate with your doctor to request further investigations (e.g. MRI scans, X-Rays) or further information regarding your medical history. This will only be done with your written consent. If you wish, your osteopath may also write to your doctor to inform him that you have had osteopathic treatment and give details of the diagnosis and outcome.
Can I claim through my private health insurance?
The osteopath is registered with most private health care insurers. However, some insurers will only pay for treatment if their client has first been to their GP for a referral to an osteopath. For this reason, you should check with your insurer for the details of your policy.
Is osteopathy safe during pregnancy?
Yes. During pregnancy, the body has to adapt to a rapid change in weight bearing and posture, which can sometimes give rise to pain and discomfort. Osteopathic treatment is able to relieve many of these aches and pains, while at the same time, gently encourage the process of adaptation, thus allowing a more enjoyable and healthy pregnancy.
Can I go for an osteopathic check-up?
Yes. As children and young adults, our body’s ability to adapt to poor posture and minor injuries is very good. As the body matures, its reservoir of compensation begins to run dry and this is when we begin to notice small aches and pains or fail to recover from a minor trauma in the way we once used to. For this reason, osteopathic check-ups can be valuable at any age, so that postural imbalances can be addressed early before they lead to degeneration in a joint(s) that will become a problem in later life.
Can osteopathy cure my arthritis?
Sadly we cannot, as yet, reverse the natural process of ageing and sometimes, when it comes to joints, the best option available is a replacement. However, gentle manual techniques on muscles, joints and ligaments can commonly ease pain, reduce swelling and improve joint mobility. This can be very helpful at all stages of arthritis, even if just to ease some of the symptoms while waiting for an appointment for a replacement.
Pain control is an important part of treatment and your osteopath can give guidance on simple self help tips and exercises to use at home.
What training will my osteopath have undertaken and how are osteopaths regulated?
By law, all osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council http://www.osteopathy.org.uk/. To be on this register an osteopath has to have trained at an accredited college or university. These days this means completing a four or five-year degree course, covering general anatomy, physiology and pathology as well as specialising in osteopathic principles and techniques.
In line with doctors, osteopaths must prove on an annual basis that they have completed a mandatory number of hours of learning (called Continued Professional Development) in order to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
They must also satisfy DBS that they are of suitable character to treat patients in a potentially vulnerable situation and must be covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments required depends entirely on your condition. When you attend for your initial assessment, the osteopath will normally be able to give you a guide as to how many treatments you need. In cases such as osteoarthritis, people may visit their osteopath several times a year for maintenance treatment, whilst others who suffer with simple back pain may only need 1 or 2 treatments.
What is the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?
Chiropractic treatment was founded by D.D. Palmer who was a former student of A.T.Still’s (the founder of Osteopathy) after they had a disagreement and fell out with each other.
In terms of education we are similar, all completing a degree course that involves a lot of anatomy, physiology and medical training. Our methods and techniques have some overlap although the emphasis on certain types of treatment vary. Chiropractors tend to use a lot of manipulations and work less into the soft tissues, whereas osteopaths will use a combination of soft tissue massage and stretching as well as manipulations and joint articulation. As a result, a single session of osteopathic treatment often lasts longer than that of a chiropractic one.
Is osteopathy suitable for babies?
Osteopathy is a gentle treatment approach, suitable for babies and children. Babies’ skeletons are softer than adults’ and often, but not exclusively, cranial treatments will be chosen. This can be helpful to release areas of mechanical stress that may have accumulated from the baby’s position in the uterus or from any birth trauma, thus allowing the baby to adjust towards improved health and well-being.