The osteopathic philosophy is that the body functions as a unit. Therefore, to aid optimal health and improve function, treatment must incorporate taking a holistic, whole body approach. On many occasions, the site of pain is not always the source of pain, so from an osteopathic point of view other structures of the body may need to be examined and treated to aid recovery. For example, sometimes pain that is occurring in the knee may be due to dysfunction in the hip even if there is no pain in the hip.
Osteopaths can help a variety of conditions such as general aches and pains of the musculoskeletal system, headaches relating to issues with the neck or jaw, problems with digestion, and many more.
Osteopaths undertake a 4-year full-time master’s program with a comprehensive study of anatomy, physiology and pathology and 2 years supervised clinical practice of at least 1000 hours. In addition to academic proficiency, to be able to practice as an osteopathy a final competence exam in which 3 examiners assesses the practical competency of an individual must be. At the BCOM, a naturopathic diploma is also awarded of which learning consists of nutrition, lifestyle and stress management.
The General Osteopathic Council
By law, individuals wishing call themselves an osteopath must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), in addition to completing an osteopathic degree. The GOsC was formed under the Osteopaths Act (1993) to regulate and promote the profession. This is to ensure the highest standards of safety, proficiency and continued professional development are maintained.
Some things to consider when coming for an osteopath appointment
At each appointment, your osteopath will do an assessment to understand where the problem is and to monitor progress. This will most times involve you dressing down to bra and underwear. Your practitioner is aware this isn’t always a comfortable process and will always ensure your comfort. You are welcome to bring shorts to wear. You may also bring a friend or relative to your appointment if you wish.
As you are most likely already in pain assessment and treatment may cause some discomfort or pain but your practitioner will always aim to keep this to minimum.
It is advisable in situations where the problem is very acute or painful and you are unable to move to wait a few days as assessment requires movement to gain a diagnosis which is needed prior to treatment starting. During this time, it is advisable to contact your GP for pain relief and advice.
Feeling sore for 24-48 hours after treatment can be common. Potential treatment reactions will be explained to you along with aftercare advice to help reduce this. If you have any concerns contact your practitioner.
There will be a continual assessment of how treatment is improving your problem. If there is little or no improvement then alternative methods or techniques will be considered. On occasion referral to your GP for further investigations or to another practitioner may be indicated.