Frequently asked questions
What is osteopathy?
Osteopathy is an established and recognised system of diagnosing and treating health problems through physical manipulation, stretching and massage. Osteopathy is based on the principle that the structure and function of the body are linked. This makes osteopathy distinctive, as it recognises that much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure, as well as damage caused to it by disease.
What kinds of problems can osteopathy help with?
Osteopathy is best known for treating back and neck pain, but we can treat so much more! Osteopathy can help with a wide variety of problems including changes to posture in pregnancy, repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, arthritic pain and sports injuries, among many others.
If you want to know whether you could benefit from osteopathic treatment, please contact us and one of our osteopaths will happy to talk to you.
What can I expect when I visit an osteopath?
When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full medical history will be taken. You’ll also be asked questions about your lifestyle, such as what you do for work and what kind of activities you enjoy in your spare time. This can help your osteopath identify why your symptoms may have developed.
You will be then examined, which may involve you getting undressed to your underwear. Normally you’ll be asked to perform a simple series of movements while your osteopath watches and assesses your mobility. Your osteopath will then use their hands to further examine areas of strain and imbalance.
You may notice that your osteopath focuses on areas of your body that aren’t causing you pain. That’s because we look at the whole mechanical picture of your complaint, as the problem may actually stem from a different part of your body. For instance, if you come to us with knee pain, we may also examine your hip, back and foot.
Your osteopath will then explain their findings, suggesting how your symptoms may have come about. He/she will also explain how we can help and offer you some immediate advice. Providing there is time and it is appropriate, you will be provided with treatment during this first appointment.
Occasionally additional investigations may be needed, such as an x-ray, MRI scan or blood tests. This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed for you.
The initial consultation will take around 30 minutes.
How many treatments will I need?
This usually depends on the length of time you have had the problem and its severity. The average number of osteopathic treatments patients have is between five and six.
Your level of health, age and stress all have a bearing on how fast your body will heal and in turn how many treatments you will need.
Visits become less often as your body stabilises. But it is important to remember that each visit builds on the one before.
Once the initial problem is resolved, patients often opt for maintenance osteopathy or massage (or a mix of both) to help prevent the pain or injury returning.
We give self-care advice and often recommend exercises or lifestyle changes to speed recovery and maintain improved health.
Does osteopathy really work?
Yes! Health Which 1997 found that osteopathy is the most widely used discipline in complementary therapy. Osteopathy achieved an amazing 96% overall patient satisfaction, with 92% of patients saying osteopathy had improved their condition.
Our patients are our best evidence. If you’re still not sure, simply ask someone who has been treated by an osteopath.
What training do osteopaths get?
Today’s osteopaths have extensive training. They undertake an intense four to five year full time degree course with specific emphasis on anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, x-rays, spinal adjusting and soft tissues techniques, all under the guide of qualified osteopaths. This demanding curriculum prepares osteopaths to locate the disorders in the body and spinal misalignments.
To graduate with an Honours degree, each student must pass a demanding examination. Then they must apply to a governmental or professional licensing board before being granted the privilege to practice.
Due to the Osteopath Act 1993 it is now illegal for someone to call themselves an osteopath unless they have undergone training at an approved school, so there are now the same safeguards in place as there are for doctors and dentists.
Osteopathic education never ends, and many osteopaths complete post-graduate training in sports, equine or paediatric osteopathy.
Can I have osteopathy on my private medical insurance?
Yes, most major private health insurers fund osteopathic treatment. Reimbursement will depend on the insurer and the plan you have chosen. Contact the helpline of your insurance company who will explain the best way to claim on your individual policy.
Your spouse, partner or children might also be able to receive osteopathic treatment on your policy. At Bristol Osteopaths our practitioners are registered with AXA PPP, Aviva BWCA, BUPA and many more. Please mention on booking which health provider you are claiming with.
What are the origins of osteopathy?
The practice of osteopathy was developed by Andrew Taylor Still, who was born in 1828 in Virginia, USA.
He originally trained as a doctor, but became dissatisfied with the contemporary standards of medical practice. His fellow doctors freely administered alcohol and crude drugs to patients, but Still felt this did more harm than good.
He began to seek new methods of treating sickness and became interested in ways the musculoskeletal system could impact people’s health. The outcome of his research was a new kind of physical treatment, for which he coined the name ‘osteopathy’.
In 1892 Andrew Taylor Still organised a school in Kirksville, Missouri, for the teaching of osteopathy. It was from these small beginnings that osteopathy was brought to England in the early 1900s. The British School of Osteopathy opened in 1917 and remains Europe’s largest osteopathic establishment.
Please be advised we accept cheques, cash or debit cards.
All our Osteopaths are registered with the General Osteopathic Council and are covered by all the major Health Insurance Providers. Your spouse, partner or children may also be covered under your health insurance — check your policy for details. Please note that the patient will be liable for their treatment fee if their insurance company wont cover the fee.