Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine used for diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions. It was established in the late 19th century by an American surgeon and his principles are still in use today. Osteopaths treat the whole body, not just the injured part. Maintenance of good mechanical function is essential for good health and helps to prevent injuries reoccurring.
In practice we use our hands to evaluate our patients, identifying areas of tension, heat and stiffness in the body. These areas are often indicative of underlying structural problems. Osteopaths treat these areas with gentle manipulation, these hands on treatment techniques gently stretch and open areas of restriction allowing the circulation of blood and lymph to flow more freely and creating space for nerves which may have been trapped.
When young, the body can easily adapt to stresses and strains. As we grow older (over 25 years) it begins to lose some of the elasticity which gives the body the flexibility to cope and adapt.
In particular this applies to the discs between the vertebrae and the joint cartilage. These require regular movement to ensure maximum range of movement and thereby increase local circulation and nutrition to the surrounding fluids and tissues.
Trouble with your back does not simply produce pain in the back. Often it may cause other symptoms in more remote areas such as buttocks, groin, hips, and legs (commonly called sciatica). Problems in the spine and neck can also cause symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, clicking jaw, pins and needles and more.
Research has shown that problems related to the back may affect over 60 % of the UK`s population at some stage of their lives.
Did you know 50 % of adults will have back and neck pain during the next year? – that’s 30 million people. [ref backcare.org.uk]
This is a refined and subtle type of osteopathic treatment that uses very gentle pressure to release stresses throughout the body including the head. It is particularly suitable for patients who prefer a very gentle treatment including babies, children, pregnant ladies and the elderly.
Babies and children
A baby goes through tremendously compressive forces during its journey down the uterine canal. The newborn skull can be pushed out of alignment and the baby may develop problems as a result.
Bouts of prolonged crying can be linked to irritation of the nerve to the stomach, as it exits from the base of the skull. The diaphragm may also be distorted during the birth process.
This may compromise digestion and make the baby irritable.
Aches and pains are common during pregnancy as the body changes shape to accommodate the increasing size and weight of the uterus. The softening of the ligaments in pregnancy allows the bones in the pelvis to separate slightly during delivery. This makes the body more vulnerable to strain and may cause back, leg, neck and headaches and fatigue.
• Helps the body adapt to postural changes due to the increasing weight of the baby.
• Can help to reduce tension in the movement of the pelvis giving the best chance for an easy uncomplicated labour.
After the birth the body has to recover from changes it made during pregnancy and delivery. Caring for a baby can also place an enormous strain on the back and activities such as nursing in poor positions, lifting car seats and fatigue can exacerbate existing musculo skeletal problems.
Osteopaths are able to diagnose and treat sports injuries, restoring structural balance, improving joint mobility and reducing adhesions. When osteopaths treat sports injuries we do not simply treat the injured area. We take into consideration the effects of the injury on the rest of the body, for example, an injury to a knee ligament may cause the patient to take their weight on the opposite leg. This may cause an imbalance in the muscles of the pelvis and the low back. An osteopath will treat all these related areas as well as the knee. The osteopath will consider all factors which may have led up to and contributed to the injury, aiming to restore movement and improve performance.
Many sports injuries are the result of over use. Osteopaths are also able to reduce the risk of sports injuries by keeping joints supple and improving muscle tone, thus reducing the risk of injury to the soft tissues. We can also advise on exercises to help you with your specific sport.