We look at how osteopathy is performed

Osteopathy aims at treating and preventing various medical conditions, working on the body’s structure. According to the General Osteopathic Council, osteopathy considers that “the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together”.


According to the NHS, osteopathy is one of only two complementary and alternative medicines that are regulated under UK law. The other is chiropractic, that present some similarities with osteopathy.


Osteopathy is a non-invasive therapy, working to restore your body’s balance without medications or surgery. This is why they use physical manipulation such as massage or stretching to “help your body’s own healing mechanisms”. They use a wide range of techniques, to treat different conditions.




Why visiting an osteopath?



Osteopaths can treat or prevent conditions in the whole body. However, the most common reason to visit an osteopath is back pain, often coming from spinal issues, sometimes spreading to the neck and shoulders. This pain sometimes originates with bad posture that can be due to a lack of exercise or an office job for example. The osteopath could diagnose a misalignment somewhere in your body and reduce your pain by correcting the bad posture.



Osteopaths can also help pregnant women if they feel discomfort with their body’s changes. It is very common to feel pressure on pain during the pregnancy and osteopaths can help relieve them, but also make sure their body is correctly aligned for giving birth.



Osteopaths can also be useful to treat sports injuries and help you recover quickly.




What happens during a consultation with an osteopath?



The osteopath will first assess your general health and wellbeing by asking you questions about your symptoms but also your medical history and the treatments you may be already carrying out.



The osteopath will examine your body to find where your issue could originate from, identifying areas that are strained or weak.



Once the source of your pain or discomfort found by the osteopath, you will discuss what treatments could help you. If the osteopath has a doubt he will refer you to a GP, eventually asking for further tests.



Be aware that it is likely you will have to remove some of your clothes, and should so be comfortable being examined in underwear.




Doctor examining the foot of a man looking sporty

Source: osteopathic manual medicine




You are also sometimes asked to perform simple movements in front of the osteopath.





How does osteopathy work?



Osteopathic treatments consist of various manipulative techniques that the practitioner chooses according to the patient’s condition.


  • - Soft tissue techniques: Those techniques aim at stretching and relaxing the muscles fibres.
  • - Manipulation: This is performed on the joints in order to restore some of the body’s motion.
  • - Strain and counterstrain: The patient is placed in a position of comfort for its spasmed muscles can relax.
  • - Articulations: This aims at improving the range of movement of a joint with gentle manipulations
  • - Muscle Energy: The patient has to push his muscle towards a direction, against a counterforce applied by the practitioner.
  • - Lymphatic technique: This aims at facilitating the move of lymphatic fluids. The practitioner can pressure on the patient’s chest and remove hands suddenly to help the body’s respiratory system.
  • - Myofascial Release: The Fascia are the membranes around the structures of the body. The osteopath applies pressure on them to restore motion.


Some more specific techniques can be used such as cranial osteopathy or visceral osteopathy.




Cranial Osteopathy



Cranial Osteopathy uses the same principles as myofascial but focuses on the membranes that can be found in the skull. This technique is very gentle. The osteopathy slowly moves the different bones that form the skull to treat the whole body. This technique is especially popular with babies but can be used at any age.




Doctor pressing on the head of a woman laying down

Source: osteo2you




Visceral Osteopathy



Visceral Osteopathy works on the tissues that attach the organs to the body’s structure. This can help treating conditions such as disorders of the digestion or reproductive systems.



How to book an appointment with an osteopath?



Only a little few osteopaths work with the NHS and you will most likely have to visit a osteopath in London. If needed, you can be referred by any private GP if he considers an osteopathic treatment would help you recover.




Osteopathy is neither painful nor dangerous though it often happens you feel tired or dizzy for up to two days after the treatment.



Julia from Findoc