Osteopathy is hands-on manual therapy for the musculoskeletal system.
Osteopathy treats a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders and medical conditions. The ethos of osteopathy is to not simply treat symptoms but address the underlying cause of pain and dysfunction.
Osteopaths take a holistic view and believe that the body is interconnected and each part affects another. Consequently, treatment will be directed at the whole body and not just the area of pain. This serves to improve overall tissue health and function and helps your body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Osteopathic treatment aims to release and stretch muscle and ligamentous tension, and gently mobilise joints and organs. This is to help relieve pain, increase mobility and enhance the blood and nerve supply to the tissues. Treatment alters the arrangement of muscle fibres and affects neural (nerve) feedback. This promotes ease of movement and reduction in pain.
Specific osteopathic treatment may include joint mobilisation, joint manipulation, soft tissue and muscle energy techniques and gentle cranial osteopathic techniques.
To provide this level of specificity, osteopaths will take the time to perform a thorough case history and physical examination. Treatment is then tailored to your individual needs.
To become an osteopath, a degree in osteopathy must be completed. The duration of the degree is four to five years. Osteopathy is regulated by a statutory body: the General Osteopathic Council. Osteopaths are primary care professionals,with patients self referring. Osteopaths are trained to identify any pain arising from a musculoskeletal problem and to recognise when a patient needs to be referred on to another healthcare professional. GPs may refer patients to osteopaths where they believe osteopathic intervention will be beneficial.
Osteopathy can help treat mild to severe symptoms in a range of common musculoskeletal conditions. Examples include:
- Lower back & pelvic pain
- Neck pain & whiplash
- Cervicogenic & tension headaches
- Shoulder & arm disorders
- Hip, knee & ankle disorders
- Arthritic & rheumatic pain
- Muscle tension
- Postural problems & repetitive strain injury
- Pregnancy related musculoskeletal pain
- Women’s health conditions (for more information about treatment for these, please go to Niamh Honey’s page under ‘Practitioners’)