What should I expect at my first appointment?
At your first appointment your Osteopath will take a very detailed history. This will include information about your general health, lifestyle, occupation, activities and diet, as well as specific questions about your symptoms. Some questions may seem unrelated to your current condition, but please bear with us as we are putting together a picture puzzle of what has happened and why. The more pieces we have the clearer the picture becomes. This may be related to other areas of your life or general health that you had not considered. As Osteopaths we aim to treat your symptoms, but also deal with the root cause to prevent/minimise reoccurrences.
You will normally be asked to undress to your underwear and perform a series of simple movements. Towels and drapes are used whilst you are on the couch to maintain privacy. A full examination and postural assessment will then take place with any relevant testing, such as blood pressure check and neurological examination (the function of the nerves).
A diagnosis will then be made and discussed with you, and the Osteopath will agree an appropriate treatment and/or management plan with you. Osteopathic treatment, which is a ‘hands-on’ approach, will then commence with your consent.
In order to speed your healing and recovery you may also be given exercises and healthcare advice to further improve your health and quality of life. If there is an underlying health condition that requires further investigations then your Osteopath will refer you to the appropriate healthcare professional e.g. your GP for blood tests. Osteopaths have extensive clinical training in order to recognise conditions which may be related to another condition for example shoulder pain may actually result from a dysfunction of the liver.
Please feel free at all times to ask the Osteopath if you need clarification at any point.
Do I have to get undressed?
As Osteopaths need to assess the whole body and not just the symptomatic area, it is preferable to examine and treat you dressed down to your underwear. However we do not want your state of undress to be a barrier to treatment and will do our utmost to protect your modesty and dignity at all times using draped towels and covers. You may choose to wear soft, cotton leggings (not compressive sport types please), or light shorts (non-compressive & without thick waistband or pockets) if you prefer.
Please feel free to bring someone with you to act as chaperone at any consultation if you wish.
Does treatment hurt?
Osteopathic treatment itself should not be painful and is often relaxing, but some particularly overstrained areas may feel tender during treatment.
You may also be achy and sore for a day or so after treatment as your body adjusts to the changes. Some people also feel tired after treatment.
You will be given information specific to you about what to expect during your initial consultation, but please feel free to contact the Osteopath if you have any concerns at all.
Do I have to be referred by my GP?
No. You do not need a referral from your GP to see an Osteopath. Indeed, the vast majority of patients self-refer.
The degree undertaken by Osteopaths ensures that we have the skills to recognise conditions where Osteopathic treatment is not appropriate at that time, and will then refer to the relevant healthcare professional, such as your GP for blood tests/MRI scans/x-rays etc.
Contact with your GP will only be made with your consent.
Who is suitable for treatment?
Health issues may be treated at every stage of life – from newborn babies to later life. All treatment is uniquely personalised to the individual and not the condition.
How many treatments will I need?
Typically two to six sessions are needed for recently acquired issues, although this varies according to your age, general health and severity of the problem. As a general guide the longer the situation has been present the longer it will take to heal and be resolved.
Please be aware that if you are given any specific remedial exercises/stretches, or other advice, the rate of your healing and recovery will be directly related to how well you comply with this advice between sessions. Most exercises take no more than 3-5 minutes per day, and are a small price to pay to get better quicker!
Is Osteopathy a regulated profession?
Yes! Osteopaths undertake four – five years honours degree programmes, underpinned by extensive clinical training at one of the recognised Osteopathic schools. Upon successful graduation application is then made for registration to the regulatory body for the UK – the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). Only practitioners meeting the high standards of safety, competency and ethics are eligible to join the register. Maintenance on the register requires continuing compliance with strict guidelines of ethics, competency and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) laid down by the GOsC.
In 1993, Osteopathy became the first major complementary healthcare profession to be accorded regulation under the Osteopaths Act. The title ‘Osteopath’ is protected by statute law, meaning that it is a criminal offence, liable to prosecution to describe oneself as an Osteopath in the UK unless registered with the GOsC.
The British Medical Association (BMA) recognises Osteopathy as a distinct clinical discipline and established system of diagnosis and treatment. Patients can expect the same safe guards for their health, safety, confidentiality and welfare as visiting other regulated professions such as their GP or dentist.
Will my health insurer cover my fees?
Yes, most health insurance providers will but there are a variety of criteria to be complied with depending on your own specific policy. It is advisable to check both with the Osteopath and your insurers for further details.