So, what do I do as an Osteopath? Most people associate Osteopaths with bad backs, but in fact Osteopaths deal with all musculoskeletal problems.
As osteopaths we look to treat globally/ holistically that is, we will look at your general health and environment and see if and what you are doing at work, home or play is contributing to your problem.
When assessing your musculoskeletal problem we aim to look at the presenting symptoms but also the chain of muscles and joints above and below that area, for example if someone has a knee issue, examinations of the hips and lower back will also be undertaken as well as looking at the ankles and feet. These examinations both active (patient does the movements) and passive (practitioner moves the patient) as well as a detailed case history allows us to piece together not only why the injury occurred but why it maybe being maintained and not allowing the body to recovery. Our treatment strategies combine soft tissue massage, articulation of joints and HVT (high velocity thrusts- or the clicks you may associate with osteopaths!). These techniques aim to help the body’s natural process of recovery by decreasing pain (leading to increase movement and exercise), increase range of movement and improving blood/ fluid flow.
As a Pilates teacher and triathlete, I’m very keen on the patients doing flexibility and strengthening exercises to aid their rehabilitation and hence get back to work and sport as soon as possible.
How does osteopathy compare to physiotherapy and chiropractors?
Our treatment differs from chiropractors who look to make adjustments and treatment to aim to get a patient to a structural norm, whereas osteopaths look at the structure and function of each individual patient in a more global perspective. As osteopaths we look at factors that may maintain or predispose the injury and how we change these as well as the injury itself.
Both osteopaths and chiropractors normally are more ‘hands on’ than physio therapists, who do some soft tissue massage work and may use electrotherapy but mainly use exercise prescription for stretching and strengthening.
All three of these have cross overs and each practitioner will be different, some osteopaths work like physios, some chiropractors work like osteopaths and some physios work like chiropractors!
An Osteopath would have completed a 4 year full time degree, this full-time undergraduate programme equips students the underpinning knowledge, hands-on experience and multidisciplinary teamwork needed to be a competent osteopath.
Robert’s clinics are based in High Wycombe, Princes Risborough and Long Crendon
Author Robert Pettingell
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