Demystifying Osteopathy Part 2: What to Expect?

I hope all of you by now have had a look at Part 1 of my "Demystifying Osteopathy" series? If not, why not?? The beginning is the best place to start after all. Anyway, back to the business at hand.

So, you’ve got as far as thinking maybe you’d like to try Osteopathy and possibly even found yourself an Osteopath that you’re willing to go and see but…

What are you likely to expect at a consultation?

Generally as a new patient, an Osteopath will need to take a full case history in order to establish whether it is safe to treat and get a better idea of what’s going on.

To start with

This involves asking about some basic details (occupation, age, sports/ activities etc.) then getting a clear idea about your medical history.


past trauma,

diagnosed systemic conditions...

all of these can have an impact on your current problem or how we manage treatment. Osteopathy is a hands-on treatment method so we need to make sure it’s safe for us to treat before going ahead.

There will also be a discussion about the current problem you’re hoping your Osteopath can help with.

Questions I usually ask (amongst others) are things like…

  • How did it start?

  • How long have you had it?

  • What are the aggravating or relieving factors?

  • Have you ever had it before?

The questions you are asked are likely to vary slightly from case to case in order to tailor treatment to your specific needs.

Following on

Your Osteopath should make you aware of possible issues with treatment. Informed consent is a big thing for us so you are always welcome to ASK QUESTIONS!

The standard warnings for patients are:

“You may feel achey for a couple of days after treatment/ you may feel worse before you get better.”

  • This is because we will be affecting the irritated area and this can cause additional inflammation on the road to healing.

“This will not necessarily be a “quick-fix”, you may need more than one treatment”

  • This is because the human body is a complicated machine and it is very difficult, as an Osteopath, to work with “100%” promises because every body reacts differently.

As Osteopaths, we like you to let us know if you have any problems or questions after treatment – this can help inform us how best to help you!

Providing you’ve given informed consent and both parties are happy to proceed, your Osteopath will then do an examination.

It is worth noting that it is useful to be able to see what is going on with the body, this will generally mean you’ll be asked to undress down to your underwear/ wear a pair of shorts/ be given a gown to wear, whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Observation is an important part of the examination as it can give a good overall impression of posture, any scarring, muscle spasm, swelling…

Examination usually involves asking you to do a few movements, and for us to feel for any tenderness in the area so we can work out what treatment is necessary.

If you have a very acute problem and are unable to move around then examination will obviously be limited by how much you can do as a patient.

The type of treatment you get after this will depend very much on the Osteopath you’re with and how they work.

Personally I use a combination of techniques that relax the muscles and mobilise the joints to try and ease the immediate discomfort.

Following on from that, I will often suggest stretches or exercises for you to do for yourself, the aim of which being to help you manage your problem and possibly limit the chance of a recurrence.


You come in with neck pain or headaches due to muscle tension.

You are found to be working in a deskbound job (a leading cause for neck pain).

I would then be likely to show you stretches to do at your desk to help limit the build up of muscle tension at sit at your desk in a better way.

As mentioned previously Osteopathy is a holistic therapy, so as Osteopaths we look at predisposing and maintaining factors. We do not, however, pretend to be fool-proof. If you have a problem that we have not been able to make a significance difference to or it is a continually recurring, we can help to point you in the right direction. Whether that’s to another therapist, to your GP or refer you for further testing such as a scan/ X-Ray.

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