If you haven’t seen an Osteopath before, you may be unsure of what to expect. The following information explains what happens and will hopefully answer any questions you may have. If you have any other concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the practice by telephone, prior to attending your appointment.
Osteopaths are healthcare professionals who are specifically trained in diagnosing and treating issues that may be causing you pain and discomfort. At your first appointment, your osteopath will ask you questions about the symptoms that caused you to make the appointment. They will also ask questions about your medical history and lifestyle. This case history will help them to make an accurate diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment.
They will write down what you tell them in your records. These records are confidential in accordance with standards of practice set out by the General Osteopathic Council and the GDPR Act 2018.
Your osteopath will then examine the area(s) of your body causing discomfort as well as how well you are moving in other areas of the body. Sometimes the cause of the problem may be in a different area to the pain. For example, pain in your lower arm may be linked to the neck; pain in your hip may be related to issues in your low back. As well as observing you move, they will need to feel for any tightness in the muscles and stiffness in the joints. All this will be explained as they go along. If you have any questions throughout any of this process, just ask your osteopath.
You are welcome to ask a friend or relative to accompany you and be present throughout your appointment.
What to Wear
The short answer is whatever you are comfortable with. Your Osteopath will need to see you move and be able to move you about as part of your examination as well as the hands-on treatment. Because of this the fewer layers of clothing, the better. The easier it is to move you about and feel areas of the body, the easier it is to treat you. Some people dress down to their underwear; others wear loose fitting sports clothing such as shorts or leggings. Others just wear their normal clothes.
Whatever you choose to wear is fine. Your Osteopath will want you to feel comfortable. If you need to change, then your Osteopath will leave the room to give you the privacy to do this. There are also changing rooms in the Leisure Centre that you can use. You are also more than welcome to have someone accompany you to the appointment.
Your osteopath will make a diagnosis and discuss a course of treatment with you. Most problems will require more than one treatment to resolve. At Mid Sussex Osteopaths, it is important to us that we see a problem through rather than telling you to ‘see how you get on’.
Treatment itself involves a range of gentle, hands-on techniques that focus on improving the movement of your body by releasing tension, stretching muscles and mobilising joints. In clinic treatment will be supplemented by advice about exercises that you can do at home to help manage any symptoms and improve movement.
Treatment is a consensual process. You will be made aware of any different ways that you could be treated and will be involved in any decisions regarding this. At the end of the day, it is your treatment.
If your osteopath thinks that treatment isn’t suitable for you or your problem then they will explain this to you and discuss what you should do next.
Is Treatment Painful?
Osteopaths work with your body rather than imposing ourselves on it so most treatment should be comfortable and pain free. If there are knots in your muscles that need loosening, then there may be some discomfort but we will always work with you to make sure that this is at a level that you are happy with.
People are often worried about ‘manipulation’ of the spine. This is where a quick movement is put through a joint and you may feel or hear a ‘click’ or ‘pop’. This isn’t painful or uncomfortable. The noise is just a bubble of gas or air popping in the joint: it is not from bones or discs being put back into place! Its effect on the body will let the joints move more freely and the muscles around the joint relax. As with any treatment, we only do this if you are happy and consent to it.
Some patients may feel some short-term soreness after treatment. We are often working with inflamed joints and tight muscles so a reaction from the body is perfectly normal. If this is the case, then it generally lasts no longer than a few hours or a day but if you have any concerns then just contact us.
Training and Regulation
Our Osteopaths have the highest level of training and expertise. Our initial degree-level training was a 4 year full time course. After qualification, we undertake a minimum of 30 hours of ongoing training every year.
In the UK, the osteopathic profession is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council. Consequently, we have a Standards of Practice that we adhere to. Osteopaths are also recognised by the NHS as Allied Health Professionals.