What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments, viscera and connective tissues functioning smoothly together. 

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, every one of its parts or structures (viscera, nerves, muscles, ligaments…etc.) must also work well. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance and more precisely to restore its function. They do that without the use of drugs or surgery. They use numerous manipulative techniques (structural, cranial, functional and visceral techniques) to restore the normal movement in between the different body structures to improve their function and consequently the one of the entire body.  An osteopathic manipulative treatment not only increases the mobility of joints, relieve muscle tension, enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues among other things but also help your body’s own healing mechanisms. The body has the natural ability to maintain itself and, by helping this process, an osteopath can promote restoration of normal function.  

Osteopaths may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, support their treatments, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.

Osteopaths will take the time to understand their patient, and their unique combination of symptoms, medical history and lifestyle. This helps to make an accurate diagnosis of the causes of the pain or lack of function (rather than just addressing the site of the condition), and from that, to formulate a treatment plan that will achieve the best outcome.

What can an Osteopath treat, give relief from or advise about?

  • Aches and pains: back, neck, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, ankle, foot (basically any!) 
  • Minor Sports and Dance injuries
  • Postural advice
  • Sciatica, Neuralgia
  • Joint, Arthritic & Rheumatic pain,
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Trapped nerves,
  • Circulatory problems
  • Stiffness & tension
  • Whiplash associate disorders
  • Disc, muscle & ligament strains
  • Muscle spasms. Cramp
  • Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) & Tennis elbow
  • Osteoarthritis of the Hip/Knee
  • Inability to relax
  • Neck related headaches or dizziness (Cervicogenic)
  • Migraine relief
  • Aches and pain relief during pregnancy, PGP (SPD)
  • Sinus, dental, ear, and eye (facial) aches/problems
  • Digestion, IBS, (Stress and tension related) problems
  • Baby / child problems, digestion,- Cranial Osteopathy can have a calming effect
  • and many more ailments

Is treatment painful?

Osteopaths work very hard to make treatment as painless as possible, but you may experience some discomfort during and after treatment. Your osteopath will warn you if they think that the technique that they are about to use is likely to be uncomfortable and will stop if you tell them that you are feeling too much pain.

Following treatment about half of patients report some mild soreness in the area(s) of their body that was treated, this can usually be relieved with an over the counter pain killer and will go away within 48 hours. If you experience serious or unusual symptoms after treatment you should contact your osteopath straight away for advice.

Osteopathic Treatment For Back Pain

Osteopathic treatment for back pain is one of our most frequent services as 80% of the population will at some stage suffer from back pain. This is one of the sad prices we pay for our upright posture. Back pain can strike anyone at any age although there are many factors that can increase the likelihood of back pain occurring. Back pain remains the most common cause of absenteeism in the workplace. Osteopaths are primary care practitioners, whose training and skills enable them to assess and diagnose your complaint. An Osteopath can ascertain which structural and mobility changes have occurred, causing loss of mobility and function, which may lead to pain and disability, recurring injuries, muscle spasm and many secondary effects affecting the whole body.


Good posture is the position of the body in which we are balanced in an upright posture with a minimum of muscular effort. In humans this means that we are standing upright with the eyes level and pointing forward, the centre of gravity from the top of our heads passes through the body to end up between our feet, shoulders and hips hang in straight level lines and we are able to stand in a relaxed and comfortable way. Many thing cause variations from this ideal posture, familial adaptations, variations in the lengths of our legs, occupational factors, bad habits from childhood or adolescence and unilateral problems of sight hearing or in the use of a limb. Osteopaths are trained to identify these variations and to track down their causes and, where appropriate, help to eradicate them or alleviate their effects. In this way osteopaths can assist many of the “postural” pains that afflict people due to scoliosis, kyphosis or poorly developed posture.

Problems in pregnancy

Many women experience back pains during pregnancy, for the majority these are due to the changes in posture that the developing baby in the womb requires of their bodies conflicting with their own posture. As the pregnancy develops and the size and weight of the womb increase increasing strain is put upon the low back and pelvis to adapt their position to balance the mother’s posture. This can lead to all kinds of pain from local structures that are strained to their limits and to other areas that are affected by the alteration of the spinal curves. In some cases nerve root pressure may be caused giving rise to sciatica or other examples of “the baby lying on a nerve”. Osteopaths can identify the problems in the posture that are causing theses symptoms and with simple and safe techniques may be able to relieve the symptoms. Having osteopathic treatment in pregnancy is no more dangerous than at any other time as a properly trained osteopath will know how to adapt his normal approach to the special needs of a pregnant mother.

Arthritic pain

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions, there are many different types ranging from a simple joint or ligament strain causing arthritis to the severe general body diseases such as Rheumatoid Disease and Psoriasis. However many so called “Arthritis” cases are not really true arthritis but an exacerbation of an underlying wear and tear condition. Many hip and especially knee arthritis cases are really such a situation and the osteopath by helping to improve the function of the joint can in many cases restore mobility and relieve the pain. Similarly in the spine many cases of “Arthritis of the spine” are minor injuries and restrictions of movement aggravating underlying wear and tear from which more than half the population over fifty years old suffer. These conditions can be helped by careful osteopathic treatment however the treatment of the more severe inflammatory arthritis must be approached with caution and on an individual case basis.

Sports injuries

Most sports injuries will heal rapidly and successfully with either sensible self treatment or some physiotherapy, however some will either not settle or may recur causing long periods of inactivity. Osteopathy with its unique view of the patient as a single integrated structure will frequently be able to find the key to help these difficult cases resolve. In many cases postural or other factors may be interfering with the healing mechanism or individual postural variations and restrictions of movement may be at odds with the movement required for that sport. Osteopaths are trained to understand these problems and to help the individual sportsperson to achieve their maximum potential.

Migraines & headaches

Headaches are an everyday fact of life, we all get them from time to time, sometimes from over indulgence or at times of stress. However if we suffer from recurrent headaches often, for no really obvious reason, this should always be investigated. There are many possible causes for recurrent headaches ranging from eye problems through Migraine and postural problems to serious medical problems. Osteopaths are trained to distinguish between these and to give treatment where appropriate. In many cases of recurrent headache treatment to relieve spasm in the muscles of the neck and especially right up where the neck joins the base of the skull can give amazing relief very quickly. Also the holistic, total body approach of the osteopath will enable them to identify the factors in that patient that leads to the build-up of this spasm. In the case of migraine headaches, which are much more complex and severely painful, this kind of treatment can often ease the severity and frequency of attacks and by listening to and discussing with the patient the predisposing factors osteopaths can frequently help in identifying some of the triggers that set attacks off.

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a very painful and disabling condition, which can affect men and women more frequently as they pass forty years of age but can occur in younger people. It frequently develops after an injury to the shoulder or after a period of lack of use, but can also appear for no apparent reason. Generally it develops as increasing ache and restriction of movement in one shoulder progressing, if not treated, to almost complete loss of movement at the shoulder joint before gradually and slowly loosening and easing. This process typically may take from eighteen months to three years. Osteopathic treatment can help to shorten this period and ease the pain by encouraging the movement at the shoulder itself and in the associated muscles and joints to gain as much movement as possible. Generally however it is a long slow course of treatment, for what is a slowly developing condition. It is not uncommon for neck and thoracic spine problems to cause symptoms similar to Frozen Shoulder. Indeed in some cases the pain coming from these regions leads the patient to restrict the movement they perform at their shoulder, because of pain, which leads to a Frozen Shoulder developing.

Osteopathic Treatment of Sciatica

Sciatica is pain down the distribution of the Sciatic Nerve and can have several possible causes. The Sciatic nerve is the largest in the body originating in the bottom of the lower back from the 4th and 5th Lumbar and 1st Sacral nerve roots. Anything that causes pressure on these nerve roots or on the nerve as it passes through the buttock down into the back of the leg can cause Sciatica. Osteopaths can identify the cause of the sciatica and, where appropriate, give treatment to alleviate the pressure and ease the pain. It is very common for lower back pain with or without leg pain to be labelled as Sciatica, when in reality the Sciatic Nerve is not involved at all. In these cases and in genuine Sciatica, Osteopathy will frequently be the safest, quickest and easiest way to ease the pain.

Kinesiology taping

Kinesiology taping is a specialised method of applying elasticated sports tape over areas of dysfunction/injury that follows the principles of Kinesiology, which unlike the commonly used zinc-oxide tape allows the body and muscles to move whilst assisting in its rehabilitation. This form of taping will often be used in combination with other techniques as part of a full osteopathic treatment, but can also be used as a stand alone therapy. Taping aims to improve recovery rates by providing the following benefits: Mechanical effects:
  • Physical support to weak and compromised tissue
  • Elasticity of tape allows for full movement of the affected areas
  • Reduces/alters loading patterns of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints
  • Optimises functional joint alignment
  • Offloads overactive tissues
  • Corrects positional faults
  • Vascular effects:
  • Elasticity of tape decompresses blood vessels in space between skin and muscle
  • Decompression promotes improved blood and lymphatic flow
  • Reduces swelling
  • Neurological effects:
  • Improves sensory feedback by stimulating receptors in the skin
  • Reduces pain generated from the tissues
  • Lowers activity levels in overused tissues
  • Increases activity in underactive tissues
Additional info: There is an ever growing body of research that supports the use of Kinesiology taping, some of which can be found at www.rocktape.net or www.kinesiotaping.co.uk. Both Osteopaths at the Queens Road Clinic use Kinesiology taping techniques. If you have questions about osteopathic treatments please telephone or contact us, remember we are happy to offer free friendly advice.  

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