Do I need to bring anything with me to my appointment?
Please bring details of any prescribed medication or supplements you are taking. If you have any recent relevant X-rays, scans or medical reports please bring these with you. Also bring any orthotics, braces or supports you use.
Will I need to undress?
Osteopathic diagnosis and treatment involves both observation and palpation, therefore you will probably be asked to undress to your underwear but it is not compulsory. Your privacy will be respected at all times.
Can I bring a chaperone?
You are welcome to bring a companion with you. Please be aware that they will become party to all conversation during the appointment. Anyone under the age of 16 should be accompanied at all times by a parent or appointed guardian.
Should I tell my doctor that I am seeing an osteopath?
It is not necessary to advise your GP. As primary healthcare practitioners, we are clinically trained to assess patients without recourse to medical records. Occasionally we need to contact your GP about aspects of your health and medical history. We will always obtain your consent before contacting your GP or other medical carers.
Will I be treated on my first visit?
The primary aim of your initial consultation is to establish what is wrong and whether osteopathy is a safe and appropriate treatment for you. Providing there are no contraindications we would normally expect to treat you on your first visit.
How will I feel after treatment?
Most people initially feel easier after treatment. It is not unusual to then experience a treatment reaction and become more uncomfortable as the day goes on. This usually only happens after your first one or two treatments. The discomfort may last for a couple of days and is usually easily controlled. Your osteopath will advise you on post-treatment self-help to minimise this reaction. If you are concerned about how things feel after a treatment, please get in touch.
How often will I need to be seen?
The majority patients require 3-6 treatment sessions. We often recommend 2-3 sessions in the first 10-12 days, with intervals increasing to match your progress. Every patient responds differently and your osteopath will discuss with you the anticipated course of treatment, your prognosis and realistic expectations for recovery. In some cases where the problems being addressed cannot be expected to resolve (old injuries, structural changes) it may be recommended that treatment is given at regular intervals on a long term basis to maintain the function and keep symptoms at bay as far as possible.
Can I help myself?
There is always much that a patient can do to help (or worsen!) their condition. Your osteopath will advise you if there are particular activities or exercises you should or shouldn’t do. Please ask if you have any specific activity in mind.
Should I take pain killers?
Many patients are reluctant to take painkillers for fear of masking their symptoms and thus causing further trouble. However, the judicious use of analgesic, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant medication can often be extremely useful, especially in the acute phases of some conditions. Your osteopath will advise on the suitability of appropriate ‘over-the-counter’ medication as well as other methods of easing discomfort such as the application of heat and/or cold packs, the use of pain relieving gels or gentle exercises. If prescription medications are required, your osteopath can liaise with your GP.
Can someone come and treat me at home?
We routinely offer home visits – if we have the time to visit we will try to accommodate. Couches and other equipment needed to treat can be brought to the home visit. There is a modest additional charge for extra time and fuel.
Is osteopathy safe?
Osteopathy carries few risks, and the vast majority of patients find treatment helpful. About 90% of our patients are referred through word of mouth recommendation – so there are a lot of happy patients around! Adverse reactions are not uncommon however and about half of people have the following effects for a couple of days after treatment, most commonly after the first one or two sessions.
- A increase in pain or stiffness
- A mild headache
Severe adverse reactions are very rare. Osteopaths are trained to medically screen patients to assess their suitability for osteopathic treatment. They will need to adapt their techniques appropriately or they may decide that treatment is not suitable for the patient and in this situation will discuss other treatment options, referring patients to other medical professionals as appropriate.
Rib fractures are thankfully very rare but probably the lease uncommon of the severe adverse effect to osteopathy. When they occur, it tends to be in patients who have osteoporosis or bone thinning for other reasons – radiotherapy, anorexia, long term use of steroids. These patients can suffer fractures easily in everyday life – tripping up a step for example or being hugged by a loved one. It is difficult to give any treatment without the small risk of a fracture occurring – but these patients often find treatment very helpful, so we treat them – with great care!
Concern is often voiced about the risk of neck manipulation causing a tear in the vertebral artery (vertebral artery dissection – a rare but serious condition which can lead to a stroke). This type of tear of the artery can be caused by serious or minor trauma and is a significant cause of strokes in patients under 45 years of age. Between 1 and 3 out of every million people who have neck manipulation are at risk of having a stroke, so the risk is real but extremely small. There are a number of other risk factors for vertebral artery dissection, which include doing yoga or martial arts, having your hair washed at the hairdressers, painting a ceiling, blowing your nose or turning your neck when reversing the car. Vertebral artery dissection is also more likely if you suffer with hypertension (high blood pressure), sustain neck trauma, take oral contraceptives, suffer migraines or as a result of other complex medical conditions. It is not always possible to identify vulnerable patients. Osteopaths are trained to identify patients at high risk of a stroke and if they have any concern will not perform certain neck manipulations.
It may help to know that spinal manipulation for neck pain seems to be much safer than taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, according to a research review carried out by the National Council for Osteopathic Research (NCOR) in 2010.