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 and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.
To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. We also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.
Osteopaths’ patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people. Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, repetitive strain injury, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and minor sports injuries.
To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, but with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered. The British Medical Association’s guidance for general practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.