Q: What is Osteopathy?
A: People often associate osteopathy with back pain or neck pain, and many of my patients do come to see me for these conditions. However, I also treat a wide range of other musculoskeletal conditions, such as muscular aches and pains, minor sports injuries, joint pain and certain kinds of headaches.
Osteopaths use a range of different hands on techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and stretching to help relieve pain, combined with advice and exercise rehabilitation to aid recovery.
Q: How does Osteopathy differ from Physiotherapy and Chiropractic?
A: I wrote a blog post on this very topic. It's hard to give a simple answer, as although there are some broad trends, practitioners within each profession differ considerably amongst themselves. We’re all in the business of providing conservative care for musculoskeletal pain, using some combination of hands on manual therapy, exercise rehabilitation, and general advice; and we may share some similar techniques. In my experience, the best therapists tend to work in a remarkably similar way, regardless of the title they use on their business cards.
Q: How do I know Osteopathy is safe and effective?
A: Osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is against the law to call yourself an osteopath unless you are qualified and registered with the GOsC. The minimum qualification for an osteopath is completion of a four or five year degree, which includes at least 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice. They must then continue to update and expand their knowledge by logging a minimum of 30 hours per year of continuing professional development. GOsC can remove an osteopath from the register if they fail to maintain a strict code of professional practice. You can check whether an osteopath is registered by visiting the GOsC website.
Q: Why should I choose Olton Osteopathy?
A: One of the most frustrating aspects of being injured or in pain is the way in which it can limit us from doing the things that are important to us, that give our lives meaning. Our passion at Olton Osteopathy is helping people to return to the activities they love and to live a full and active life. For one person, that might be playing a particular sport, for another it might be their passion for music, and for someone else, it might be taking the grandchildren to the park.
With longer appointment slots than many therapists, we take our time to listen to your story, carefully assess what is going on, and to help you to understand what is causing the pain before deciding on a course of treatment that's right for you.
Q: What can I expect when I come to see you?
A: At an initial consultation, we'll spend some time taking a careful case history - I'll ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing, how it affects your activities and lifestyle, as well as some questions your general health. We'll perform a physical examination: this is likely to involve asking you to perform some movements and (with your permission) touching and moving areas of the body related to the problem. Once we've reached a diagnosis, we'll discuss with you what's causing the pain and some treatment options. We'll then continue with some treatment, and finish with some general advice and perhaps one or two exercises for you to do at home if appropriate.
Q: Will I have to get undressed?
A: We may ask you to remove some clothing, but if you are uncomfortable undressing to your underwear then we can always arrange an alternative. You may, for example, wish to bring shorts with you (and a sports bra for women), or gowns and towels can be provided on request. In some cases we are even able to treat patients fully clothed, although this may limit which techniques we are able to use.
Q: Will I have to make lots of repeat bookings?
A: At the initial consultation, we will discuss the course of treatment, and how many sessions you are likely to need. This usually involves a combination of osteopathic treatment, home exercises and self-care advice. Many patients need fewer than 3-4 treatments; and we pride ourselves on keeping this number to a minimum.
While some of our patients do like to return for more frequent treatments or sports massages, we try to ensure this is because you want to, and not because you need to!
Q: Can I claim treatment costs from my private medical insurance provider?
A: It depends on who you are insured with, and the details of your policy. Most insurance providers will want to know that your healthcare provider is registered with the relevant professional organisation, which we are (see above, and the logos at the bottom of the site). We can provide invoices for individual sessions and planned courses of treatment on request. A few insurance providers need osteopaths to be registered with them specifically in order for treatment to be covered; we're in the process of speaking to these companies at the moment, and hope this is something we can offer in the near future.
Q: What if you can't help me?
A: While osteopathy can be helpful for people with a range of conditions, it may not always be appropriate; sometimes patients may benefit from treatment by a different healthcare professional. If we think this is the case, we'll discuss the options with you, and help to arrange a referral. It may also be helpful for me to talk to other professionals involved in your care - in the past, we have worked together with GPs, orthopaedic consultants, podiatrists, physiotherapists, psychotherapists and sports coaches.