What happens during osteopathic treatment?
An osteopath treats a patient with his hands; but there is no set osteopathic treatment for each condition. Just as doctors can choose from a variety of tablets for the same problem, so osteopaths employ different techniques according to their experience, physique and the needs of each individual patient.
The site of pain is not always where the main problem lies. Sometimes situations in other parts of the body cause the pain directly or contribute to it by imposing additional strains. For example, a knee or ankle causing pain on walking may mean the spine has to bend more to take weight off the affected part to avoid further discomfort. For this reason the osteopath will often wish to examine other parts of the body beyond the symptomatic area. The aim, in treating a painful condition, is to restore normal mobility not only to the painful area, but also to other affected areas of the body.
Osteopaths draw from a wide range of techniques. These include massage – like techniques to relax muscles, articulation or passive repetitive joint stretching to improve the quality or range of movement of a joint, and high velocity thrust techniques to restore the mobility and function of a joint (this is the technique which produces a click). Many practitioners also use gentle release techniques (sometimes referred to as cranial osteopathy) to ease away stresses in tissues. These are particularly useful with infants. Cranial techniques are used by Stephen Tyreman and Paddy Searle-Barnes, as well as the more direct techniques mentioned above.
Following treatment some people feel sore where they have been manipulated and massaged. This is often a sign that the body is responding to what has been done. Generally this reaction settles down in 12-24 hours. If you are concerned in any way please contact your osteopath.