As an osteopath, I am EXTREMELY biased into believing that anybody and everybody can benefit from osteopathy. However, I do understand there are reasons why somebody wouldn’t want to visit or are unsure about receiving treatment. Therefore, I have listed some obvious reasons and tried to clarify some of these misconceptions.
Most pain gets better on its own eventually
High quality research has found that a lot of pain experienced by people is short lived and often gets better on its own (Itz, Geurts, van Kleef, & Nelemans, 2013). For example, nonspecific (meaning there is no obvious cause such as a fracture, cancer, infection) low back pain usually improves within SIX weeks of its original onset/trigger. The body is extremely strong and adaptable, working to heal the injury and reduce the pain as soon as it can.
However, unfortunately in some people this pain maintains and overstays its welcome. This can be due to other factors such as poor sleep, activity level, mood, and other lifestyle choices. Everybody is different, so your osteopath is trained to help you identify your sticking point and discuss possible solutions with you.
A visit to an NHS physio or GP is free – which is fantastic as it means more people can access the care they need. However, because of this there is often a waiting time before you can organise an appointment.
The price of an osteopathy appointment in the UK ranges from £35 to £50. Our prices are £45 (Bearsden Osteopaths) and £40 (Sage Osteopathy, Inverkip) per session. In these we take a full case history, examination and testing, explain diagnosis, treatment, and a specific self-management tool.
From this, it is not unheard of that you will feel a lot better after your first appointment. But for most people, especially if the pain has been around a while, it will take a little longer. Typically, people say they feel noticeably better after 2-3 appointments.
It might make my pain worse!
Whilst we aim to help you feeling better as soon as possible, there are times where you may feel a little bit worse after treatment. This happens after we have moved things around and the body needs time to adjust to the new state of health. Common symptoms reported by patients are “an increase in pain/soreness, tiredness, and headaches”.
The good news is that this increase in symptoms typically only lasts up to 48 hours before all their symptoms improve! I’ve often heard “You were right, I was sore after treatment for a couple days but then I woke up one morning and felt so much better!”. Drinking plenty of water, keeping mobile, and maybe a little nap often makes a world of difference!
An important thing to note is that “no pain, no gain” is not always true, and sometimes you CAN just feel a lot better after treatment 😉.
You just “click” people don’t you?
Manipulation or adjustment (the back clicking technique) is ONE of many methods an osteopath can use to help your body find health. We find it to be a very effective method at improving spinal mobility, reducing pain, and there’s a nice little endorphin release that comes with it too! (Fryer, 2017). It involves moving you into a certain position where you may feel a little tight, then performing a short quick movement to mobilise that joint. There MAYBE a “pop” but this isn’t need for the technique to be effective.
We will always perform a full case history and assessment to rule out any increased risk of an adverse effects (Carnes, Mars, Mullinger, Froud, & Underwood, 2010). Your safety is our main concern.
However, if you do not feel comfortable with your osteopath performing this technique, PLEASE let them know and they will be more than happy to find an alternative way to achieve the same results. These include joint mobilisation, muscle stretching, soft tissue massage, and more subtle techniques working with the body’s connective tissue.
It’s not “evidence based”
Unfortunately, this one mainly appears from what other healthcare professionals have said – rather than the experiences of patients themselves.
Currently, there isn’t much high-quality research showing the benefits of osteopathic treatment. In fact, a lot of the studies conducted show negligible differences between osteopathy and other treatments such as physiotherapy (Menke, 2014). And as with any type of therapy, some individuals unfortunately will not benefit in the long term.
However, to improve quality of these studies the researchers use specific criteria in their diagnosis for patients, and also specific/or one treatment technique as their intervention. Both these important points unfortunately do not represent a typical osteopathic appointment. We believe everybody’s pain is different, so we do not treat every person the same. Every appointment is different and involves a variety of different techniques, advice, and exercise.
I hope that has been helpful in addressing some of the main points that would stop you visiting an osteopath! If there are anymore that you can think of, please message/email/Facebook them to me and I’ll get on the case of adding them!
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Carnes, D., Mars, T. S., Mullinger, B., Froud, R., & Underwood, M. (2010). Adverse events and manual therapy: A systematic review. Manual Therapy, 15(4), 355-363. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2009.12.006
Fryer. (2017). Integrating osteopathic approaches based on biopsychosocial therapeutic mechanisms. Part 1: The mechanisms. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 25, 30-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ijosm.2017.05.002
Itz, C. J., Geurts, J. W., van Kleef, M., & Nelemans, P. (2013). Clinical course of non-specific low back pain: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies set in primary care. Eur J Pain, 17(1), 5-15. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00170.x
Menke, J. M. (2014). Do manual therapies help low back pain? A comparative effectiveness meta-analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 39(7), E463-472. doi: 10.1097/brs.0000000000000230