What To Expect From Osteopathic Treatment

Some people may be hesitant about undergoing osteopathic treatment as they are unsure precisely what receiving treatment from an osteopath is actually like.  Understanding the procedures involved more thoroughly can help you to make the decision whether to visit an osteopathic clinic for treatment for illness or injury.

Osteopathy is a manual form of physical therapy that aims to restore the body’s natural balance.  It may involve massaging soft and connective tissues, articulating limbs, or the manipulation of muscles, joints and tendons.  However, osteopathy is a gentle, non-invasive form of treatment that is part of an holistic approach to good health and should not cause undue discomfort.

At the outset of your treatment your osteopath will ask you questions regarding your medical history (including any accidents or traumas), lifestyle and overall sense of well-being, as well as the more precise nature of your complaint.  (If you have recently undergone x-rays or tests, it is advisable to bring this material to an initial examination.)  Your osteopath may also wish to test your coordination and reflexes, and your blood pressure.

This will then be followed by a thorough physical examination that will explore your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Your osteopath may also want to test the flexibility of your arms, legs and back, and will also look carefully at your spine, perhaps examining your posture and balance.  During an initial examination or subsequent osteopathic treatment sessions, you may be asked to remove your top layers of clothing to enable your osteopath to gain a clearer view of your body and the affected area. 

As a result of this examination, your osteopath will decide upon a personalised treatment plan and will share with you the process as well as the outcomes that can be expected as the treatment progresses, alongside an expected timeframe for the treatment.  It might be that only a few osteopathic sessions are necessary, perhaps followed by an occasional check-up, or your osteopath may recommend a regular course of treatment.

Your osteopath may also discuss with you at this time changes that you might be able to make to your lifestyle or working habits that will help to alleviate your condition or to prevent it from returning in the future.  This may include being given some exercises to undertake at home, or resting the affected part of the body.

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is often used in an osteopathic treatment session.  A patient might sit or lay on a table as the osteopath gently applies a precise amount of physical pressure to a specific location, perhaps the affected area but also possibly at another point on the body.  The aim of this is to relax the tissues where the patient is feeling pain or discomfort so as to restore muscle and tissue balance, relieve restricted joints and to promote the flow of bodily fluids.  OMT may sometimes require a short, forceful movement called a high-velocity thrust, when you might hear a clicking or popping noise.  This is not painful and is entirely normal and to be expected.

However, OMT is not the only procedure employed in an osteopathic clinic.  Soft tissues may be massaged, joints may be articulated or mobilised, muscles can be exercised through stretching and resistance, or visceral techniques may be applied, i.e., the gentle and rhythmic manipulation of internal organs.  All of these techniques are aimed at restoring balance and stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Osteopathic manipulation and treatment is not painful, although there can sometimes be feelings of discomfort as an injured part of the body is manipulated, or alternatively you might experience a mild soreness immediately following a treatment session in the same way as you might after physical exercise.  Nevertheless, the process of osteopathic treatment does not involve painful stresses or exertions on the body and it should be noted that as osteopathy involves personalised treatment plans, osteopathic manipulation may not be necessary in every case or at every treatment session.

Amber Laris is an Australian osteopath who has been treating patients in her osteopathic clinic in the heart of the Adelaide CBD for over 30 years. To find out more about the benefits to health and well-being of osteopathy, or to arrange a consultation, contact Amber Laris on (08) 8221 6100 or visit her website www.amberlaris.com.au