Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a general question or need a quick answer? Have a look below to see if we can help.
If the answer to your question is not here, please email us using this link EMAIL A QUESTION and we will reply no later than 2 working days – or if you question is more urgent, feel free to ring us on 0191 565 8886. And remember – there’s no such thing as a silly question!
Please bring details of any prescribed or over the counter medication or supplements that you regularly take. Also if you have any relevant X-ray reports, scans or medical reports please bring these with you too. Also bring any orthotics, braces or supports that you use on a regular basis.
You are more than welcome to bring a companion with you, such as a friend or family member to your consultation and any treatments that you may have. Anyone under the age of 16 has to be accompanied at all times by a parent or appointed guardian during a consultation and all treatments.
Osteopathic diagnosis and treatment involves both observation of your posture and palpation of your muscles and joints, so occasionally you may be asked to undress to your underwear but it is not compulsory. We will respect your privacy at all times.
It is not necessary to tell your GP, it’s entirely your choice. Osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners, that means we are medically trained to examine patients without the need to access their medical records. Occasionally I may need to contact your GP about specific aspects of your health and medical history. In this situation I will always obtain your consent before contacting your GP or any other medical professionals.
The main aim of your initial consultation is to establish what is wrong i.e. diagnose your condition and whether osteopathy is a safe and effective treatment for you. Providing there are no contraindications to treating you I usually start treatment on your first visit.
Most people usually feel easier after their first osteopathic treatment. It is not unusual to then experience a mild treatment reaction and become more uncomfortable as the day goes on, the same kind of mild ache that you would experience the day after going to the gym after having not been for a while. This usually only happens after your first couple treatments as your body gets used to osteopathy. This mild discomfort usually only lasts for a couple of days and I will advise you on post-treatment ‘self-help’ techniques to minimise this reaction. If you are concerned about how things feel after a treatment, please get in touch, so that I can allay any fears that you may have.
I will advise you if there are particular activities or exercises you should or shouldn’t do as well as giving you plenty of ‘self help’ techniques that you can do at home. Please ask if you have any specific activity that you want to keep doing during your course of treatment with me and I will advise you as to whether it will impact positively or negatively on your progress.
Most of our patients require 3-6 treatments to cure their pain. I usually recommend 2-3 treatments in the first 10-14 days, with the space between treatments increasing as you improve. However every patient responds differently to treatment so I will discuss with you the individual treatment plan, your prognosis and realistic expectations times for your recovery. In some cases I may advise that you join our ‘Health Maintenance Plan’ where the problems being addressed cannot be expected to 100% resolve (e.g. very old injuries or degenerative/arthritic conditions) so it’s recommended that treatment is given at regular intervals on a long term basis to maintain your body’s healthy and pain free.
Osteopathy carries few very risks, and the vast majority of patients find treatment helpful. ‘Adverse treatment 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 treatments:
- A increase in pain or stiffness
- A mild headache
Osteopathy can be helpful throughout all stages of pregnancy. It is important that you tell me if you are or think you may be in the early stages of pregnancy. The first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks) carries a naturally high risk of miscarriage. While there is no proven link between osteopathic treatment and an increase in incidence of miscarriage, as an osteopath I will take care when treating pregnant women and adapt their treatments appropriately. Manipulation of the lumbar spine is avoided until about 14 weeks gestation but other techniques can be used. Osteopathy is a very safe and effective treatment for the aches, pains and discomfort of pregnancy and many women find it invaluable in the later stages when the pregnancy places tremendous strain on the body.
There are no established risks that are specific to pregnancy, and dry needling techniques can be safely used – with due caution – in all stages of pregnancy.
Many patients are reluctant to take painkillers for fear of masking their symptoms and thus causing further trouble, which to a large extent I agree with. However, the careful use of painkillers, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant medication can often be useful, especially in the early, painful stages of some conditions. I 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 and stretches. If prescription medications is required I am quite happy to liaise with your GP.
I do not routinely offer home visits. In our experience the quality of care we are able to offer is compromised and the additional expense incurred does not offer value for money to my patients. If a patient is so disabled as to be unable to get to the practice, there is generally little effective treatment we can offer. However I am always willing to give help and advice over the telephone and treatment is usually suitable after a couple of days as the acute pain reduces and you are a little more mobile.
Severe adverse treatment reactions are extremely rare. As an osteopath I am trained to medically assess patients to determine their suitability for osteopathic treatment. I am trained to adapt my treatment techniques appropriately or to decide that treatment is not suitable for the patient and in this situation will discuss other treatment options, referring patients to other medical professionals such as their GP.
Osteopathy and chiropractic have a common origin and although the two disciplines are superficially similar, they have quite different in their underlying philosophies. In practical terms osteopathy, chiropractic and also physiotherapy treat the same types of musculoskeletal conditions. There is considerable overlap between the working styles of practitioners from the three different disciplines, and also considerable variation between practitioners within the same discipline!
Broadly speaking the initial consultations will be similar with practitioners from all three disciplines, involving a detailed case history, physical examination of the patient, their standing posture and the way they move, and a series of clinical tests such as blood pressure and reflexes to aid diagnosis and to help establish that the patient is suitable for treatment. The nature of the actual treatments are significantly different:
Osteopathic treatment usually comprise massage of the soft tissues, stretches and rhythmical movements of the joints, and joint manipulations of the joints of the spine and/or the limbs (causing the pops and crunches for which we are known!). Treatments with an osteopath are generally about 15-20 minutes duration and patients are usually seen approximately twice a week in the initial phase of treatment.
Treatments with a chiropractor are usually shorter – 5 or 10 minutes – and comprise mainly spinal adjustments (pops and crunches again!). Chiropractors generally see their patients more in the initial stages.
Physiotherapy treatment tends to be more based around exercise therapy and the use of electrotherapy equipment, such as interferential and ultrasound. Many physiotherapists with a special interest in musculoskeletal medicine will also have studied manipulative techniques (more pops and crunches!).
Having given the descriptions of the three disciplines above, I must stress the distinctions between the professions is not clear-cut for example I may use ultrasound and a chiropractor or physiotherapist may perform massage work.
All these treatment approaches have been shown to be safe and effective and it can sometimes be difficult for patients to decide which treatment to choose. We of course are biased and think osteopathy is best and it’s fair to say that our results speak for themselves!