Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do osteopaths work with other medical practitioners?

Yes.  Although most osteopaths work within private practice there are ever-increasing numbers of them working within the NHS – in hospitals and GP practices. Osteopaths receive referrals from GPs and will also liaise with and refer patients to other health care specialists.

Osteopaths are highly skilled practitioners who are fully recognised by the medical profession as Allied Health Professionals (AHPs).

Do I need a referral from my GP to see an osteopath?

No. Although we do treat patients that have been referred to us by a GP, there is no requirement for a patient to seek a GP referral.  Osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners, meaning they are qualified to treat patients without any need for prior referral.

Is treatment painful?

Osteopathic treatment is usually a very gentle process and our osteopaths work very hard to make treatment as painless as possible, but you may experience some discomfort during and after treatment. Your osteopath will warn you if they think that the technique that they are about to use is likely to be uncomfortable and will stop if you tell them that you are feeling too much pain.

Following treatment you may experience some mild soreness, this will normally subside within 24-48 hours. 

Is osteopathy safe and effective?

Osteopathy is a safe and effective therapy and is even recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of low back pain.

Surveys have shown that people who visit an osteopath consistently report high satisfaction with the care they receive, expressing high confidence in the treatment and advice of their osteopath, with rates in excess of 90% for both satisfaction and trust.

What qualifications do osteopaths have?

All osteopaths practicing in the UK are primary health professionals and undergo years of rigorous training. Osteopathic undergraduates are required to follow a four or five year degree course, during which time they will study the core medical subjects of anatomy, physiology, neurology and pathology, as well as certain specialist areas such as biomechanics and osteopathic technique.

Osteopaths are required to gain extensive clinical experience and undergo a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical training as part of their undergraduate studies.  Qualifications generally take the form of a bachelor’s degree in osteopathy – a BSc(Hons), BOst or BOstMed – or a masters degree in osteopathy (MOst).

Will my GP be notified if I seek treatment with an osteopath?

Only if you want and are happy for the osteopath to do so.  Your appointment with the osteopath remains confidential and we will only liaise with your GP if you are happy for us to do so and have signed a consent form to this effect.

Whats the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?

Osteopaths and chiropractors are both manual therapists, both treating patients with a variety of ‘hands-on’ techniques.  There are a lot of similarities between the two disciplines and there will be a large amount of overlap between the types of techniques that each discipline adopts.

Osteopaths and chiropractors will also treat similar conditions, however the main difference between the two disciplines is in the approach and philosophy of the treatment.  Although not solely focussed on the spine, the chiropractic philosophy is more focussed around correcting realignments in the spine in order to promote better health.

Osteopaths generally work holistically, looking at the whole body, with their philosophy and principles being based on the fact that the structure and the function of the whole body are inextricably interrelated, with treatment aiming to rebalance the body’s structure and function in order to improve overall health.

Does osteopathic treatment involve ‘cracking’ bones?

Osteopaths may employ high velocity thrust techniques (known as HVTs), where joints are mobilised with a ‘popping’ or ‘clicking’ sound.  These techniques are safe and effective however the osteopath will only employ them if the patient is happy for them to do so.  If a patient does not want these techniques to be used then the osteopath will be able to offer other techniques to the patient.

What should I expect at the appointment?

Initially your osteopath will take a detailed case history from you which is likely to be followed by a physical examination, along with any clinical tests deemed necessary. The osteopath will then establish a diagnosis and will discuss their prognosis and proposed treatment plan with you.

Find out more.

How many treatments will I need?

Although it is always difficult to say exactly how many treatments you will require, most short-lived problems tend to be resolved within 2-5 visits.  The more long-standing a condition, the longer it tends to take to treat, therefore it is advisable to book in to see your osteopath as soon as you can when you start experiencing symptoms.

If your osteopath advises that you have shockwave treatment then a course of 4-6 treatments will usually be recommended.

Will I be allowed a chaperone?

If patients would like a third party to accompany them in the treatment room then they are welcome to invite a friend or relative to act as a chaperone.

All patients under 16 are required to have a parent or legal guardian as a chaperone.  Patients aged 16-18 are advised to bring a chaperone who is over the age of 18.   This does not have to be a parent or legal guardian but should be someone the patient knows well.

What should I wear?

The most important thing is  that you feel comfortable at all times in clinic.  We advise that you bring with you appropriate clothing to wear during treatment; something you feel comfortable in – a pair of shorts and a vest top for example. You will have the opportunity to change into these clothes privately before treatment.

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