What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an estabished recognized system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.

Who and what do osteopaths treat?

Osteopaths’ patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people. Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, repetitive strain injury, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and minor sports injuries.

A partial list of complaints in which osteopathic treatment would commonly be applied would include:

• Back pain
• Headache
• Neck pain
• Shoulder pain
• Non anginal chest pain
• Athletic or overuse strain injuries

Depending on individual practitioner expertise, osteopathic manipulative treatment may make a significant contribution to the health care management in the following diagnoses:

• Muscle or ligament strains, ankle, elbow, knee
• Traumatic injuries without laceration or fracture
• Pregnancy and childbirth, gestation, labor and post-partum
• Muscle tension headache independent or associated with migraine
• Sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, Otitis media
• Infant colic, plagiocephaly
• Osteoarthritis
• Pneumonia, bronchitis, congestive heart failure
• Hypertension
• Gastric reflux, non acute cholecystitis
• Anxiety and depression
• Vertigo

Most patients visit an osteopath of their own accord, but some may be referred by a doctor. Osteopaths are trained to recognise when osteopathy will not help a medical condition, and will refer a patient to a GP when necessary.

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