What to Expect at your Osteopathic Appointment
New patients to the practice complete initial paperwork including medical and lifestyle history and current medications. Previous XRays, CT and MRI scans, ultrasound scans and medical reports may assist your Osteopath with their diagnosis, so bring any that you have to your appointment.
Your osteopath will begin the session with further questioning of a more detailed nature regarding your presenting condition, the history of your symptoms, and previous injuries. A full history of previous physical traumas/injuries and your current health status and lifestyle will also be taken.
Patients may be asked to undress to their underwear for physical examination. A gown is provided or patients may choose to wear loose clothing for their examination. You will be asked to perform a series of movements standing, seated and lying down, and may also be given some orthopaedic, neurological or other system examination depending on your presenting problem and symptoms. After this examination your osteopath should be able to give you a brief explanation of your problem as diagnosed, and the treatment plan/prognosis to the best of their ability.
In rare cases your osteopath may decide that it is inappropriate or unsafe to proceed with treatment until further investigations are carried out. In this case you will either be given referral for imaging or your osteopath will write to your GP outlining their concerns and requesting further tests that only the GP can refer for.
Treatment will depend on the working diagnosis decided on by the osteopath and will be agreed with the patient. This is when Informed Consent for Spinal Manipulation will be requested if that is part of the osteopath’s treatment plan.
Treatment can include a wide variety of techniques including soft tissue (muscle) massage and stretching, joint mobilisation and manipulation. Visceral and Cranial Osteopathic techniques may also be applied where indicated. Your osteopath may have other adjunct qualifications such as Dry Needling, which may also be appropriate to your condition. Separate consent is required for Dry Needling.
After Your Treatment
Following your appointment it is common to experience minor soreness or stiffness from the treatment for one or two days. The progress of your recovery will vary, depending on the severity and longevity of the problem. If you experience significant discomfort following your appointment (this is rare) you are asked to contact the clinic so that your practitioner or colleague can give advice or if needed see you for further evaluation. It is important to understand the nature of the healing process of the musculoskeletal system. Tissues that have been stretched and mobilised will take a few days to settle. You may be advised to rest from strenuous work or high-impact exercise for one or two days following your appointment, to get the best progress from your session.
Your osteopath may give you advice regarding the use of hot or cold packs or the use of over-the-counter medicine or supplements that may assist your recovery. Osteopaths are not permitted to give pharmacological advice unless separately qualified to do so.
The number of treatments you will need to resolve your problem is a discussion you will have with your osteopath and the answer will depend on a wide variety of factors. Some patients present with relatively recent minor issues and good health status and they will usually recover in a short number of treatments. Other patients may have conditions with years of history, numerous other physical injuries impacting their musculoskeletal function and/or a physically demanding lifestyle. These patients will indeed need to be patient! But quality treatment and advice can make a tremendous difference even to very complex conditions. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach in osteopathy.