When visiting an osteopath please expect to be asked detailed questions about the history of your current complaint, your past medical history, family history, and your current lifestyle. Some of the questions asked may initially appear irrelevant but they are vital in providing a full picture of all the factors underlying your complaint. This allows the osteopath to formulate some ideas regarding the possible cause(s) of your complaint. These ideas are then tested by a physical examination (which may require you to undress to underwear or suitable shorts or leggings) where your posture, mobility and musculoskeletal function will be evaluated. In addition, a number of further special tests relevant to your condition may be conducted on site.
Once the examination is complete the osteopath will either be able to reach a diagnosis, or in a small number of cases, refer you for further tests or investigations to complete the picture (e.g. blood tests, x-rays, scans). Occasionally, the osteopath may ask you to complete a diet diary or symptom diary before attending the next session. The diagnosis is explained to you and treatment commences with your consent.
As outlined above 'treatment' may consist of a blend of manual techniques designed to improve function and stimulate recovery, but may also include low level or 'cold' laser treatment, ultrasound, electrical treatment, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, diet, exercise and recommendations on lifestyle changes where appropriate.
Osteopathy is suitable for all ages, but the type of treatment which is appropriate for a healthy 20 year old may not be the same as that which is indicated for a healthy 80 year old. Cranial osteopathy is another manual technique utilised by many osteopaths which is characterised by a gentle and subtle approach. It is often used in the treatment of very young children. Some osteopaths choose to specialise only in this particular approach, but many others will prefer to use the technique when appropriate, in combination with a range of other osteopathic techniques