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What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis, management, treatment performed by an osteopath to aid in prevention of musculoskeletal and other related disorders.  The principles of Osteopathy are based on the balance between the structure and function of the body, and focus around the premise that the well-being of an individual’s body depends on the optimal function of the whole body including the skeletal bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues.


Osteopathy, founded by Andrew Taylor Still in 1828, is a manual therapy which is safe and effective.  Osteopaths recognise that imbalances to the structure of the body are a major source of pain and disability; hence the structural integrity of the body forms the emphasis of diagnosis and treatment. There are many fields of osteopathy from the functional, visceral and cranial techniques, which are gentle in nature, to the more structural techniques.  Whichever form of technique is used it is applied appropriately and sensitively.    


What an Osteopath does?


At the initial assessment details will be taken about your problem and your current and past general health.  Followed by an examination which will assess the structural integrity of the body, health of the joints, tissues and ligaments using a well-developed sense of palpation and standard testing procedures. 


At herbal osteopathic life, Catherine likes to give a clear explanation of the examination 

results and the proposed treatment plan.  She also tries to ensure that the patient is clear 

and comfortable with how the treatment will progress and asks for regular feedback and 

consent to proceed during the treatment.  It is important that you ask any questions you wish 

to or express any worries so that Catherine can talk this through and ease your concerns.

Catherine feels that educating the patient with the likely causative factors associated with 

their problem and activities they can do including rehabilitation exercises, ergonomics, 

postural advice and some lifestyle changes are a strong element to a successful outcome

and gives a fuller understanding for the patient.  


Osteopathic treatment is a hands-on therapy that involves skilled manipulation and articulation of the spine and joints, and massage of soft tissues, this may also be accompanied by acupunctures and electrotherapy machinery ie ultrasound.  The aim of treatment is to increase mobility of the joints, relieve muscle tension, enhance blood and nerve supply, optimize lymphatic drainage and to assist in the body’s own healing system.


What types of conditions do patients commonly see an osteopath for?


  • Pain to the lower back 

  • Sciatica

  • Foot and heel pain

  • Strains and sprains of ligaments and tendons

  • Sports injuries

  • Sacro-iliac dysfunction

  • Neck ache and stiffness

  • Shoulder pain

  • Headaches

  • Acute and chronic pain

  • Trapped nerves



Most research into techniques used in osteopathy tends to focus on general "manual therapy" techniques, such as spinal manipulation. Manual therapy techniques are used by physiotherapists and chiropractors, as well as osteopaths.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on managing lower back pain and sciatica recommend manual therapy alongside exercise as a treatment option.



Visceral osteopathy


The word viscera refers to the internal organs of the human body that are located within the rib cage and the abdominal and pelvic cavity.  It is known that musculoskeletal pain can be referred from and to the viscera.  

Visceral osteopathy is a gentle form of manual therapy that aims to address tensions in the abdominal and pelvic region to encourage improved function of the whole system.

The technique the osteopath will apply will include gentle compression, mobilisation, and elongation of the tissues in and around the problematic region to aid in a more complete release of tensions.

What conditions might benefit?

Visceral osteopathy may be helpful in the management of:

·       IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)

·       Digestive issues

·       Acid reflux

·       Constipation

·       Painful menstrual cycle

·       Infertility

Although there is not much scientific evidence behind visceral osteopathy, results in everyday practice can be very satisfactory and we believe that more research is needed to shed light on such a powerful branch of our practice.

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