If you come for treatment with one of the Fishponds Osteopaths, what can you expect?
The Osteopath will meet you in the Reception area, and take you to an individual treatment room – but already the process of diagnosis has begun: could you get up from the chair without pain? could you speak clearly? did you limp? The Osteopath will ask you to sit down (if you are comfortable to do so) and will ask you lots of questions – basic admin’ details to begin with, but then more probing questions about your particular problem, about your lifestyle and the activities you undertake, and also about any health problems you have had in the past which may affect the way your body works today.
The Osteopath will then ask you to undress – usually down to your underwear. It is very important in Osteopathic diagnosis to look at the patient in full, to see their overall shape and what movement they can achieve. For example, a feature as small as a fallen arch on one foot may result in torsion through one leg, twisting in the pelvis, curvature through the spine and neck muscles which are working so hard to hold the head level that headaches result. (If you are concerned about the need to undress, you are always welcome to bring a friend or relative with you, or a chaperone can be provided within the practice on request).
The Osteopath may then want to see particular movements in more detail – perhaps carrying out a thorough examination of your hip or shoulder, and will also want to feel the tissues. Osteopaths have been described as having thinking fingers. Palpation, (the sense of touch), is essential to feel the overall range of mobility at a spinal joint, but also its quality, and the condition of the surrounding muscles. All this information enables an osteopath to form a picture of their patient as a whole, suggest what may be going wrong, and how improvement could be made.
Except in the most complex cases, treatment will be commenced at the first visit, once the Osteopath has discussed his/her findings with the patient and what needs to be done (Initial examination and treatment may take up to any hour, with follow-up visits lasting 30 minutes). At Fishponds Osteopaths we strive to use the very gentlest techniques that will achieve the required results. Rhythmic articulation of the joints will often be done, gentle stretching or massage of tight muscles undertaken, or the very gentlest “cranial” osteopathic techniques used in which patients are aware of little more than the Osteopath holding the appropriate area of the body.
Sometimes more vigorous techniques are advised – these are the manipulations which cause a joint to click or deep, soft tissue work to release shortened muscles. Even these are not usually painful – although they may be if a patient has a lot of severe inflammation present. Manipulation will always be discussed with a patient, but it can be highly effective in restoring movement to a locked joint with rapid relief of associated pain. Feedback from patients about how they are feeling during treatment is encouraged.
After treatment, a patient will be reassessed and any appropriate advice given such as changes to be made in seating at work, or exercises to be done. A further visit is almost always necessary – to check progress and make sure that balance has been restored to the body. In many cases a course of treatment is necessary to gain the required improvement. A few patients, whose pattern of dysfunction has become set in with their occupation or age, may require treatment at regular intervals to sustain improvements in the way they feel and function.