How long will the consultation take?
Your osteopath may spend up to 45 minutes to an hour with you on your first appointment. This allows sufficient time to get to know you, understand your complaint, gain enough information to form a diagnosis and begin to treat your condition. After this you will normally have 30 minute follow up treatment sessions.
What will the osteopath do?
Initially a thorough case history will be carried out, taking into account your past medical history, background, work-life, hobbies and general well-being. A physical examination will then take place, at which point your osteopath may ask you to remove certain items of clothing where appropriate. You may feel more comfortable wearing loose clothing that can be rolled up to access the area of your symptoms if need be. You will be made to feel as comfortable as possible throughout this process, and if you do not wish to remove any item of clothing you will never be forced to do so. Any physical findings noted during examination such as posture, quality of joint movement and muscle tone will be considered alongside the case history to form a diagnosis. This will be explained to you clearly before any treatment is carried out, and you will have a chance to ask questions at any point throughout the consultation process.
What happens if the problem is not musculoskeletal?
In some cases, if your osteopath has reason to suspect that the cause of symptoms may not be purely musculoskeletal they will perform a number of diagnositic clinical tests. Osteopaths are medically trained to examine a number of body systems, including Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Lymphatic, Neurological and the Abdominal organs. If there is anything clinically unusual in these preliminary tests, osteopaths will refer you to your GP for further investigations to rule out other causes of your symptoms. In all cases, if your osteopath believes that your symptoms are not appropriate to treat without further investigation, you will be referred.It is not unusual for your osteopath to examine an area of the body that you feel may be unrelated to the cause of your symptoms, do not worry about this, it is not normally due to concern over something more serious. More often than not, diagnostic clinical tests are used to gauge your general health and as a marker for recovery. However, this will be explained to you throughout the process and if you are concerned about anything at all, please ask questions!
What happens if you come with a pre-existing condition, can osteopathy still help?
Osteopaths look at the whole body and not just the symptomatic area. Often the way in which our bodies adapt when we suffer from dysfunction or disease leads to changes in other areas. In addressing these areas we can help speed up recovery times. The aim is to remove any barriers to recovery, helping your body to heal itself. Osteopathy is a very safe, gentle method of treatment. Depending on what the pre-existing condition is, normally treatment can still be carried out. We do not believe that we are directly treating the disease, but the individual as a whole. This can have very beneficial outcomes with certain conditions.However, in some cases it may not be appropriate to treat. For example, if you think you may be suffering from a relapse of a certain condition such as Rheumatoid or Psoriatic arthritis, treatment may aggravate symptoms. It is best to call in advance if you are unsure whether your condition may a contraindication to treatment.
What happens during treatment?
A variety of techniques may be used during treatment such as joint manipulation, massage, stretches and acupucture, to improve the function of a specific area, and the body as a whole. Treatment is not usually painful, and will be explained before and throughout the sessions. Your permission will always be gained before treatment commences so you will have a chance to ask questions and discuss any aspects of the diagnosis or treatment that you feel you do not understand or are not happy with. If you do not want a specific technique to be performed or method of treatment such as acupuncture for example, you will never be persuaded to have it done. You will always be in control of your treatment.
What happens after the initial consultation?
After your first session, subsequent appointments usually last up to 30 minutes or so. This is to allow enough time for a discussion about how your symptoms have progressed, treatment and advice. Any longer than this and it can be too much on the body, which may lead to adverse reactions such as prolonged soreness after treatment for example. In some cases, treatment may not take the whole 30 minutes, it very much depends on your condition and at which point any change has been noted to the area being treated.
After treatment it is very normal to experience some degree of soreness. This can be a very good sign that things are shifting in the right direction. However, your Osteopath will explain this during the treatment and give advice on how to help reduce any soreness should you experience it!
How many sessions will I need?
This may vary from patient to patient. Recovery time can depend on the specific diagnosis and the response rate of the individual to a particular treatment. We will always reassess at each treatment session and explain any findings to you. However, to give a general idea we would normally expect to see a change within 3 to 6 treatment sessions. It may take longer than this, or you may not even need 3 treatments! At every step we will be honest with you as to how many sessions you may need. We will never ask you to return for treatment if we do not think it will benefit the condition or if you have recovered.
In the long term, for certain individuals it is a good idea to have a general ‘MOT’ every 3 months or so to ensure the body is in its optimum state. This is working with the philosophy of prevention rather than cure and may reduce the development of certain conditions or injuries. It may mean that you see an Osteopath 3 to 4 times a year as opposed to having to have a set of treatments in one go to treat a problem.