The scope of practice in Osteopathy can be quite varied and choice of treatment techniques often varies slightly between between practitioner and patients. For example different treatment techniques will likely be used for a body builder than on an elderly patient.
A commonalty in the treatment process will be the case history and the forming of a diagnosis. This involves; listening to and gaining a true understanding of the problem, how it arose, how it effects you, understanding of your goals (to be pain free, to be able to take part in sports again, etc), examining the problem (and the whole body) and forming a diagnosis based on findings.
Through gaining an understanding about you and forming a diagnosis, we can than then form a treatment plan suitable to you. This may change through treatments depending on how you and your body respond to treatments, and if there were anything you feel made a significant difference or anything you weren’t so fond of. We always work with our patients, and offer an understanding into what we’re doing, what’s causing the problem, and listen to any concerns.
What Treatment Techniques do Osteopaths Use?
As mentioned above this varies between practitioner and presenting patient. Bellow is an overview of common treatment techniques with some details on how they work.
Soft tissue techniques including massage are used to release or loosen off tight tissues and muscles. This can be done by directly massaging tissue or by targeting specific muscles and using advanced stretching techniques to lengthen that muscle. Soft tissue techniques work by improving fluid dynamics to an area allowing your bodies own healing mediators to flow to that area. Soft tissue techniques are also thought to stimulate an inhibitory neurological response, dampening down the pain perception and muscle tone by having an effect on the nerves causing this.
Mobilisation and Articluation
Mobilisation and articulation techniques are used to restore range of motion to a restricted joint. Joints can become restricted; post injury due to muscle guarding, through decreased use causing thickening of the joint capsule, or due to degenerative changes.
Increasing mobility in a restricted joint can help by improving joint fluid dynamics (essentially lubricating the joint). Articulation also has an indirect effect on the muscles surrounding the joint improving blood supply to them and gently stretching muscles causing restriction.
HVT techniques are advanced, powerful mobilisation techniques used to increase range of motion in restricted joints. Often associated with and audible clicking noise as the thrust is put through the joint.
The techniques effects include improved range of motion and decreased pain. HVT techniques can also have an effect of neurological feedback mechanisms, causing local muscle relaxation and pain inhibition.
Many Osteopaths (including myself) complete additional qualifications allowing them to use medical acupuncture as a treatment technique. This involves the use of Chinese meridians and trigger-points to locate areas of dysfunction. The area is then skillfully stimulated with an acupuncture needle.
The exact mechanisms behind acupuncture are not yet fully understood, it is thought that stimulating the dysfunctional area focuses the bodies healing response to that area. It is also considered that a neurological inhibitory response is elicited in that area dampening the pain experienced.
I have highlighted above, some of the techniques that myself and many Osteopaths use. The techniques used in treatment largely depend on you (the client) and what is being treated, as no two people are alike, and anyone visiting the clinic have the right to decline certain types of technique if you feel its just not for you.
If you would like more information about anything mentioned on this page or how Osteopathy may benefit you please get in touch, I’ll happily give free advice or discuss anything confidentially over the phone.