What should I expect from my first visit?
The first appointment lasts up to one hour. A portion of this time will be used to take a thorough case history to find out as much as possible about your symptoms, how they began and what makes them better or worse.
You will also be asked about general health, medical history, medication and any accidents, injuries, illnesses or surgery.
Following this, there will be a physical examination for which you will need to wear suitable clothing, such as underwear or something stretchy to allow movement. You will be asked to perform some simple movements to allow the osteopath to assess your posture as well as any restrictions to normal movement. Your muscle tone will be palpated by the osteopath to assess areas of abnormal strain, weakness or spasm.
It may also be necessary to carry out further conventional medical tests, such as taking your blood pressure, checking your reflexes or listening to your heart or lungs with a stethoscope.
Once the physical exam is complete, the osteopath will discuss her findings with you and suggest treatment options. Occasionally the osteopath may need further information before starting treatment, such as a more detailed medical history or MRI/X-Ray results. Usually however, treatment begins on the first visit so that progress can begin immediately.
Osteopaths use a range of treatment methods including joint manipulation and articulation, muscle massage and stretching and cranial techniques. A single treatment session may well use a selection of these methods.
It is not always possible to give a firm diagnosis on the first assessment, especially if you are in a lot of pain and have adopted a protective posture or if you have extensive muscle spasm. In such cases the underlying problem and its cause will become clearer as the body adapts to changes made during each treatment. Usually even those in acute pain feel some relief from symptoms following the first treatment although full recovery and healing takes a bit longer.As a general rule, if the mechanical strains responsible for the pain have built up over a period of time, recovery is usually a slower process as treatment and time unwinds the accumulated stresses. Such cases frequently involve patient participation in terms of exercises and a critical assessment of occupation and everyday posture, all of which the osteopath will help and advise you on in order to support your recovery.
Wherever possible you will be given an indication of approximately how long a course of treatment may take.
FOLLOW UP APPOINTMENTS
These usually last around 30 minutes and also involve a short physical examination before treatment begins in order to reassess your progress so that an appropriate management plan of treatment can evolve.