Osteopathy

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 Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment, which works by balancing the structure of the body with the function.

There are many situations in daily life that can cause strains on the musculo-skeletal system resulting in aches and pains. These may be due to poor seating arrangements at work, incorrect lifting of awkward or heavy objects, or sporting injuries. Car accidents can in many cases result in whiplash injuries or strains to ligaments and muscles. These may not always show up immediately with the symptoms appearing some time later.

Many conditions can be treated with osteopathy, targeting not only symptoms but also the parts of the body that have caused the symptoms. Osteopaths aim to restore balance by improving mobility to the joints and relieving muscle tension to enhance blood supply and facilitate the body's self-healing mechanism. Your body will work well if it is in good structural balance

A wide range of techniques may be used, including stretching and massage, cranial techniques (sometimes referred to as 'cranial osteopathy') and joint mobilization. This breadth of approach allows us to focus on every patient's precise needs. Osteopaths assess and treat people of any age from the elderly to the newborn. Pregnant women may also be safely treated after the first trimester.

We may also refer our patients for diagnostic services ie X ray or MRI if we feel it is necessary. This could be either via your GP or privately.  Exercises or postural advice may be given, or if we think that Osteopathy is not the best approach at this time we will advise you which direction to take. 

For more information about what Osteopathy offers please visit the Institute for Osteopathy website.

Our lead Osteopath:

Anna Tonkin

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What to expect - before treatment

What we do and how we do it 

Although osteopaths treat many conditions, most people think of us as 'back specialists'. Back pain is what many osteopaths treat a lot of the time. Osteopathic treatment does not target symptoms only but treats the parts of the body that have caused the symptoms. Osteopaths have a holistic approach and believe that your whole body will work well if your body is in good structural balance, Imagine, for example, a car that has one of its front wheels not quite pointing straight. It may run well for a while, but after a few thousand miles, the tyre will wear out. You can apply this example to the human body, which is why it is so important to keep the body in good balance. We use a wide range of techniques, including massage, cranial techniques (sometimes referred to as 'cranial osteopathy') and joint mobilization and this breadth of approach allows us to focus on every patient's precise needs. 

Osteopaths assess and treat people of any age from the elderly to the newborn and from pregnant women to sports people. 

How we do it

Your medical history 
Before we start to treat you, we will make a full medical assessment. We take time to listen to you and ask questions to make sure we understand your medical history and your day-to-day routine. We'll ask you about things like diet, exercise and what is happening in your life, as these may give clues to help our diagnosis. 
We may feel your pulse and check your reflexes. We may also take your blood pressure and refer you for clinical tests, such as x-rays, if we think you need them.

Your posture 
We usually look at your posture and how you move your body. We may also assess what happens when we move it for you and see what hurts, where and when.

Trouble areas
Using touch, we may also find the areas which are sensitive or tight and this helps us to identify what's going on. 
When we have done this, we can diagnose your condition. We may sometimes feel that osteopathy is not appropriate for you and refer you to your GP or another specialist such as an orthopaedic surgeon.

Your treatment 
Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle manipulations, depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. 

Treatment is different for every patient but may include techniques such as different types of soft tissue massage and joint articulation to release tension, stretch muscles, help relieve pain and mobilise your joints. 

Sometimes, when we move joints you may hear a 'click'. This is just like the click people get when they crack their knuckles. 

We may discuss exercises that you can do to improve your posture and movement in your workplace and everyday life.

Respecting you – Your modesty matters

It is important that you feel comfortable during your osteopathic treatment, particularly around matters of modesty and privacy.

At the start of your first session we will ask questions about your medical history and lifestyle as well as your symptoms. This is very important as it will help us to make an accurate diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment. This information is kept confidential in conjunction with the Data Protection Act 1998.

We will need to examine the area(s) of your body causing discomfort. Sometimes the cause of the problem may be in a different area to the pain, (for example, a difference in leg length may result in compensations in the upper back which might result in neck pain) so we may need to examine your whole body.

We will need to feel for tightness in the muscles and stiffness in the joints and may need to touch these areas to identify problems. We will explain this as we go along, but if you are uncomfortable with any part of this then let us know, we can discuss this with you or stop if you prefer.

As with a visit to a GP or other medical professional, for us to examine you effectively it may be necessary for your them to ask you to remove some clothing as appropriate for the condition. This may mean undressing down to your underwear. If this is a problem for you then let us know and we will try to make arrangements that make you more comfortable.

You are also welcome to bring someone with you for all or part of your consultation, and children should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Remember, if you have any questions we will be happy to discuss this with you

Ref: BOAhttp://www.osteopathy.org

What to expect - after treatment

It is common to feel stiff and sore following treatment; this usually lasts around 48-72 hours. Most people describe their reaction as similar to aching and pain felt after exercising. It is common also to feel tired after treatment. If you have any concerns about your treatment please contact us.

You have been seen by a qualified and registered osteopath who has provided an appropriate course of action on your first visit. If you have been asked to return for a follow up appointment your osteopath will have explained the importance of doing so to achieve a particular outcome.

Your treatment plan is devised around the best times to treat your condition. Tissues recover from injury in a reasonably predictable way; we work out your treatment schedule to fit in with this natural recovery time.

Always try to remain active if possible; this helps your recovery as well as maintaining your mobility. However strenuous physical activities should be avoided for 3 days after treatment if possible.

If you have been referred for a scan or further investigation please keep in touch to let us know the result.

You will not be asked to come for more sessions than are necessary.

Cranial Osteopathy

 What is Cranial Osteopathy?

Cranial osteopathy is a refined and subtle type of osteopathic treatment that encourages the release of stresses and tensions throughout the body, including the head. It is a gentle yet extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age.

Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel a very subtle, rhythmical shape change that is present in all body tissues. This is called Involuntary Motion or the Cranial Rhythm.  The movement is of very small amplitude, therefore it takes practitioners with a very finely developed sense of touch to feel it. This rhythm was first described in the early 1900's by Dr. William G. Sutherland and its existence was confirmed in a series of laboratory tests in the 1960's and '70's.

Tension in the body disrupts the cranial rhythm. Practitioners compare what your rhythm is doing to what they consider ideal. This shows them what stresses and strains your body is under at present, and what tensions it may be carrying as a result of its past history. It also gives them an insight into the overall condition of your body, for example if it is healthy, or stressed and tired.

What qualifications should an Osteopath have?

 In the UK all qualified osteopaths have  DO, or BSc (Ost) or similar, after their names.

Most osteopaths will have had a four year full time or six year mixed attendance mode training. At present there are various recognitions of post graduate training and experience in the cranial approach, your osteopath may have other letters after their osteopathic qualification.
In May 2000 the Osteopaths Act came into effect to maintain standards within the profession.  The title Osteopath is protected by law, and no-one is able call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the  General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). For a number of years the profession has been working hard to achieve statutory regulation.  The Osteopaths Act is welcomed as final recognition of the role which osteopathy plays within modern healthcare.

To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered. The British Medical Association's guidance for general practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.

Ouch! What to do when you sustain an injury

Sprains and strains to muscles and joints happen to all of us and for most they are a painful, but temporary reminder to be a little more careful. Prompt action can help your body to heal faster and may prevent further injury or prolonged pain.

Sprains and strains to muscles and joints happen to all of us and for most they are a painful, but temporary reminder to be a little more careful. Prompt action can help your body to heal faster and may prevent further injury or prolonged pain. 

Strained or ‘pulled’ muscles often happen when we over exert untrained muscles, train without properly warming up or try to go beyond a joint’s natural flexibility. Sometimes we feel the pain straight away, however some injuries might not cause pain until later on. What can you do?

Remember RICE (Relative rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), using these can help to relieve the pain and start the healing process.

Relative rest: The first thing to do if you feel pain is to reduce the offending activity – pain is usually your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong that needs your attention. It can be normal to feel a little sore after exercises for a day or two, but if it is more than this, pushing through the pain is rarely beneficial.

However, movement stimulates the healing process so stay as mobile as you comfortably can. Try to keep the joint moving through a comfortable range of motion, without forcing it to the point of pain. This will help to encourage blood flow and keep your joint flexible whilst it heals. This is particularly relevant for back pain as gentle exercise, such as walking, can help. You should slowly build your activity levels up as soon as your symptoms begin to resolve and as soon as you are able.

Ice: Cooling the area using an ice pack can help to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap a thin tea towel around the area so as to avoid direct skin contact and then apply the pack to the injured area for 10 – 15 minutes. You should repeat this several times per day for the first 72 hours. This will help to control inflammation, making it easier for your body to get blood and nutrients to the area and resolve the injured tissues.

Compression: Gently applying a compression dressing may help to temporarily support the injured joint and reduce swelling, though remove this immediately if there are signs that this is reducing the circulation to the area (numbness, pins and needles, the skin turning white or blue etc).

Elevation: If the injury is in the lower limb (knee or ankle), elevating the area a little can make it easier for your body drain fluids that might accumulate around the area, causing swelling. For example, if you’ve hurt your knee, sitting down with the knee raised on a low foot stool may ease your pain.

Seek medical attention. If you have pain that can’t be controlled with over the counter painkillers, can’t put weight on the injured limb, experience paralysis or loss of sensation or the swelling is very bad seek help from your local A&E department, urgent care centre or telephone 111 for advice.

If the pain or swelling fails to improve within a week, a visit to an osteopath may be beneficial. They will be able to assess the injury, advise you on the correct treatment and can provide some manual therapy which may help it get better faster.

Back pain and children

 Like adults, children can suffer from back pain as a result of a variety of lifestyle activities. And like adults, there are number of things that parents and carers can do to prevent issues arising.

Back Pain and Children

Like adults, children can suffer from back pain as a result of a variety of lifestyle activities.  And like adults, there are number of things that parents and carers can do to prevent issues arising.

If your child does complain of back pain, it is important to seek advice from qualified professional, such as an osteopath.  An osteopath will help to establish the cause of the problem and will provide advice on treatment, or refer you for further examinations if required.

Good school bags

Children are often required to carry bags full of books, PE kits, musical instruments and other equipment to and from school. Parents should try to limit the weight of school bags as much as possible and invest in a good quality back pack that the child should wear across both shoulders, ideally with a strap across the chest to keep the load close the their body. Packing the bag with the heaviest items (such as laptops and heavy books) closest to child’s body, will also make carrying more comfortable and less likely to strain the muscles of the back.

Limit screen time

Looking down to use smart phones, tablets and laptops for an extended period can pull the back and neck into an unnatural posture, resulting in pain. Placing limits on the time spent using devices and encouraging regular breaks may help to avoid problems. If your child has to use a laptop for homework, consider purchasing a support that elevates the screen to a height that allows him or her to sit up straight to look at it.

Regular exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is known to contribute to the risk of developing back pain, as well as contributing to obesity. Regular physical activity helps to keep the core muscles that support the spine strong and maintain flexibility, which will help to avoid back pain. Encourage lots of active play, walking, running, swimming, cycling etc to keep your child fit and healthy.

The right bed and pillow

Good quality sleep is vital for both physical and mental development. Make sure that your child has a good sized comfortable bed with a firm mattress and a pillow that supports their head without lifting it too high.

Osteopathic Treatment for your child’s back pain

Your child’s back pain may benefit from osteopathic treatment.  Using gentle manual therapy an osteopath will help to resolve any stresses and strains that are affecting their body and relieve their pain. They can also provide lifestyle advice that may help to prevent the problem from coming back.