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What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a drug-free, non-invasive manual therapy aimed at alleviating pain and restoring function to the muscles, joints and nerves. Although osteopaths are best known for treatment of back and neck pain, they treat and assess the whole body and can help patients with a variety of muscle, joint and nerve problems (see below for more details).
What type of training do Osteopaths have?
Osteopaths complete a 4- or 5-year honours degree programme (bachelor’s or master’s), which involves at least 1,000 hours of clinical training. This is subsequently supported by on-going continuous professional development.
Education includes comprehensive training in physiology, human anatomy, biochemistry, orthopaedics, neurology, clinical diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, nutrition, exercise and rehabilitation.
What does Osteopathic treatment involve?
Osteopathic treatment includes of a range of techniques aimed to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve function of the muscles, joints and nerves.
- Increase joint mobility
- Relieving muscle tension
- Enhancing the blood supply to tissues
- Enhance the body’s natural healing ability
This includes hands-on manipulation and mobilisation of the spine and extremities. It may also incorporate a variety of other interventions such as soft tissue massage, stretching, corrective exercise, dry needling and nutritional therapy, as well as offering postural and lifestyle advice
Does Osteopathic treatment work?
Yes. A growing body of research studies and reviews now demonstrates what patients have been saying for years – osteopathic treatment is both effective and safe.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on managing lower back pain and sciatica state that manual therapy can be considered as a treatment option alongside exercise.
A growing body of evidence also supports osteopathy’s approach for a variety of other conditions and interventions including:
- Neck pain.
- Shoulder pain.
- Hip arthritis.
- Knee arthritis.
- Ankle sprains.
Is Osteopathy regulated?
In the UK, Osteopathy is a regulated health profession that’s distinct from nursing, medicine and pharmacy. By law, osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).
The GOsC only accepts registration from practitioners who have a qualification in osteopathy that’s recognised by the GOsC and who comply with their standards of practice. Osteopaths are required to renew their registration each year. As part of this process, the GOsC checks they have the correct insurance, are meeting professional development requirements, and remain in good health.
Is Osteopathy treatment safe?
Yes. Osteopathy is widely recognised as an extremely safe, non-invasive option for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal (nerve, muscle and joint) complaints.
No health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects but osteopathy has an excellent safety record. Any associated treatment risks are very small. The most common side effect of osteopathic treatment is mild soreness, stiffness or aching in the treatment area (similar to post-exercise soreness). This minor discomfort usually develops within a few hours of a session and resolves on its own within 1 or 2 days.
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