A first appointment generally lasts an hour to allow for adequate time to:
- listen and ask questions and take notes about your problem, your general health, other medical care you are receiving or medication you are taking, please bring a list if it is easier. The information you provide will be confidential.
- examine you properly. You will be asked to remove some of your clothing usually down to underwear. Please let the osteopath know if you are uncomfortable about this. A privacy screen is provided for this purpose and a towel will be provided during treatment. You may like to bring loose shorts with you. You can ask a friend or relative to accompany you and be present throughout your treatment.
- ask you to make simple movements and stretches to observe your posture and mobility. Because of the body’s structure, pain or stiffness you are experiencing in one part may be linked to a problem elsewhere.
- examine the health of the joints, tissues and ligaments using their hands and a highly developed sense of touch called palpation.
- The osteopath will also check for signs of serious conditions they cannot treat and may advise you to see your GP, midwife or go to the hospital.
Diagnosis and treatment
The osteopath will give you a clear explanation of what they find (their diagnosis) and discuss a treatment plan that is suitable for you. The benefits and any risks of the treatment they are recommending will be explained. It is important to understand and agree on what the treatment can achieve, and the likely number of sessions needed for a noticeable improvement in how you feel.
Treatment is hands-on and involves skilled manipulation of the spine and joints, and massage of soft tissues. The osteopath will explain what they are doing and will always ask your permission to treat you (known as consent). Please feel free to ask questions at any time if you are unsure what you have been told or if you have any concerns.
Self-help measures and advice on exercise may be offered to assist your recovery, prevent recurrence or worsening of symptoms.
After treatment, your body will go on to heal itself through a process of inflammation which can create some stiffness and occasionally some soreness. This healing reaction can last several days so it is important that you try not to overexert yourself after treatment. You may find it useful to cool the area with ice or frozen peas wrapped in a tea-towel. Repeat this regularly for 10 minutes every hour for at least 24 hours.
Subsequent appointments will last approximately 40 minutes and will involve an appraisal by patient and osteopath of how things have been between treatment sessions followed by further treatment.