Osteopathy uses hands-on techniques, usually to treat painful musculoskeletal conditions but also to help improve function in a range of other disorders. Most osteopathic techniques are not painful; some problems can be more tender than others and some patients find they have discomfort for a day or so after treatment but this is usually not very marked. A variety of techniques will be used depending on your body and your problem - for example children, pregnant women and the elderly will receive much more gentle treatment than muscle-bound rugby players.
The number of treatments needed will vary from person to person; for a healthy person with a short term problem often one or two treatments will be all that is required, whereas more complicated or degenerative problems may need a longer course. However it is rare to need more than 7-8 treatments even for complicated conditions, and some improvement should be present after 3-4 treatments at most. It is also unusual to need treatment more often than once a week.
We are sometimes asked about the need for X-rays in back pain. In most back problems X-rays are not necessary, but if necessary (usually if we suspect a particular type of bony problem) we would always refer a patient back to their GP, as we would if there were signs of any other medical problem.
You will usually be asked to remove some items of clothing, depending on where the problem is. Often in low back pain you will be asked to remove trousers and top down to your underwear as the osteopath might need to assess your upper back, hips, feet or other areas which might be contributing to the problem. If you feel more comfortable wearing shorts or a vest top please do so, but it will be easier for us if any such items can be moved slightly (eg racerback sports-bra type tops cover quite a lot of the spine in between your shoulder blades and can't be moved much so can be awkward - a vest top would be easier as this can be shifted up or down slightly depending on need). Once you are lying on the treatment table you can be covered up with towels (apart from the area being treated) if you are more comfortable.
Usually the osteopath will ask you to perform some movements to assess how your body is moving (or not!) and then will examine you by feeling the muscle tone and quality of movement of associated tissues. Depending on what is found on examination the osteopath may ask you more specific questions about your health or history, so that we can not only understand the current problem but also gain an insight into why the problem has occurred, to help prevent recurrence.
If you are due to do anything important or physically taxing soon after treatment (eg redecorate the bathroom/drive 500 miles/run a 10K...) please make sure your osteopath knows - we may need to modify your treatment slightly or may apply some supportive strapping before you leave to help your body cope.
Some of our osteopaths also use acupuncture for pain relief and in certain chronic conditions, where it can be a useful addition to osteopathic treatment.
Although cranial osteopathy is sometimes thought of as 'different' to osteopathy, it is really just a part of the overall treatment approach used by osteopaths. 'Cranial' techniques can be used to treat any part of the body, not just the head, and are very gentle so suitable for the very youngest and oldest of our patients! All our osteopaths are trained in cranial osteopathic techniques and use them when appropriate for individual patients.
In adults, we find that cranial osteopathic treatment can be particularly useful in problems such as migraine or after complicated traumas (eg whiplash); for these sorts of complex issues our free 10-minute chat appointment is ideal to establish whether or not a particular problem is suitable for treatment.
Osteopathy for Children and Babies
If you are bringing your baby in for treatment it may be worth trying to time the appointment to coincide with a nap or a time when your baby is usually settled. Please feel free to bring any toys or comforters etc which will make the process easier! If your baby is having immunisations we find it is better to let them settle for a day or two afterwards before treatment if they are out of sorts.
For toddlers and young children we do have some books and CDs which can help amuse them during treatment, but please feel free to bring any particular favourites with you. Usually treatment will take place with the child lying on their back on the treatment table for 20 minutes or so (although sometimes other techniques, usually with the child sitting, are used) - so it is best to bring toys which can be played with in this position.
It is a good idea for toddlers or older children to prepare them for treatment by explaining that the osteopath will touch their head, back or tummy, that it will probably feel nice and is to help them feel better. If a child is old enough to contribute to his/her own case history we will usually talk to them directly so that they feel involved. If there is some aspect of the problem or history you would prefer to discuss without the child hearing then please give us a call before the appointment to have a chat, or for short messages you can write down any information to pass on while the child is there.
Our osteopaths usually wear white clinic coats and we feel that this can be a positive experience for the child - learning that white coats do not always mean jags! However, if your child has an unusually strong dislike of white coats due to previous experience and would not tolerate this please let us know before you come in for treatment.
Traditional acupuncture is used to treat people with a wide range of illnesses. Its focus is on improving the overall wellbeing of the patient, rather than the isolated treatment of specific symptoms. The skill of an acupuncturist lies in their ability to make a traditional diagnosis from what is often a complex pattern which is unique to each individual, and so following diagnosis the acupuncturist puts together a personalised treatment plan; the number of treatments required will be advised on an individual basis at your first appointment. Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and do not usually hurt, particularly given the gentle techniques Neil Scott-Kiddie uses, though you may be aware of the sensation of energy during treatment.
According to traditional Chinese philosophy, our health is dependent on the body's energy - known as qi - moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of meridians (channels) beneath the skin. By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy, an acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help to restore its natural balance.
Medical Herbalists are taught to diagnose medicine in the same way as orthodox doctors but believe in treating a patient holistically to achieve the best results. This means treating the person, not the disease and getting to the root cause of the problem not just relieving symptoms. Herbalists encourage patients to play an active role in their own wellbeing.
The word 'homoeopathy' is derived from the Greek 'homoios' meaning similar and 'pathos' meaning 'suffering' - similar suffering. The homoeopathic method of treating disease is based on the Law of Similars, which simply means that a substance which creates symptoms in a healthy person, will cure a sick person with similar symptoms.
Homoeopaths generally recognise that a person's physical wellbeing depends on internal harmony, and that disease will occur when this is disturbed. Illnesses can be physical, emotional or mental, or more likely a combination of all three; the remedy chosen must cover not only the symptoms of the illness, but also the personality and individual characteristics of the person who is unwell. While most homeopathic remedies are based on plants, homoeopathy differs from herbalism in that the plant material undergoes the homoeopathic process of potentisation. Remedies are prescribed in tablet, granule, powder or liquid form and are easy and pleasant to take.