Piers SpencerRegistered Osteopath

About Osteopathy. Horizontal shoulders

Questions and Answers

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and treatment, which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body. It is distinctive by the fact that it recognises that much of the pain and disability which we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease.

[Description by General Osteopathic Council, 28th October 1998]

What kinds of problems can osteopathy help with?

Whilst back pain is the most common problem seen, osteopathy can help with a wide varied of problems including changes to posture in pregnancy, repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries among many others. More information about how Osteopathy can help may be found at The General Osteopathy Council website: About Osteopathy

Piers Spencer (Registered Osteopath) will be happy to advise as to whether he could help with your own particular problem.

What can I expect when I visit an osteopath?

When you visit an osteopath for the first time a case history will be taken and you will be given a physical examination. You will need to remove some of your clothing so the site of injury can be assessed. With this in mind it is helpful if are able to wear elasticated trousers or leggings. The osteopath will then use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.

How much do treatments cost?

Treatment is £50 for a regular 30 minute follow-up session or £65 for the first 45-60 minute consultation and treatment.

How many treatments will I need?

Osteopathy is patient centred, which means treatment is geared to you as an individual. Piers should be able to give you an indication after your first visit. For some acute pain one or two treatments may be all that is necessary. Chronic conditions may need ongoing maintenance. An average is 6 - 8 sessions.

Do I need a referral from my GP?

A formal referral from your GP is not necessary, the majority of osteopathic patients self-refer. If you'd like to get treatment paid for by a private health scheme contact your Doctor first.

How does osteopathy work?

Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide variety of treatment techniques. These may include soft tissue techniques, rhythmic passive joint mobilisation or the high velocity thrust techniques designed to improve mobility and the range of movement of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients. This allows the body to return to efficient normal function.

How can I be sure I am in safe hands when visiting an osteopath?

A Registered Osteopath has demonstrated to the General Osteopathic Council via a detailed application process that they are a safe and competent practitioner, that they have adequate malpractice insurance and have agreed to abide by a Code of Practice.

I have noticed many osteopaths have the letters DO and/or BSc (Ost) after their names what does this mean?

These are osteopathic qualifications. The DO stands for diploma in osteopathy the BSc is a degree in osteopathy. The length of training is the same for both, at least four years full-time training. The diploma course has been around the longest but now most courses have been validated by universities allowing them to offer their students degree passes.

Can I have osteopathic treatment on the NHS?

Most people consult an osteopath privately. Telephone local practices to find out about fees in your area. An increasing number of osteopaths work with GP practices so that it may be possible for your doctor to refer you to an osteopath on the NHS.

Can I have osteopathy on my private medical insurance?

Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. Some companies will reimburse the total fee or pay a percentage of the costs. Contact the helpline of your insurance company who will explain the actual benefits and methods of claim for your individual policy.

What is the status of osteopathy in the UK?

The 1993 report from the British Medical Association "Complementary Medicine ? New Approaches to Good Practice" recognised osteopathy as a discrete clinical discipline'.
Osteopathy is the first complementary health care profession to be accorded statutory regulation (Osteopaths Act 1993).

More on statutory regulation

This legislation came into force on 9th May 2000 requiring all osteopaths to be registered with the GOsC. You can check that I am registered by looking me up on their website:General Osteopathic Council

What are the origins of osteopathy?

Andrew Taylor Still, born in 1828 in Virginia, USA, trained as a doctor according to the system of medical education available at the time. As time went on he followed a different path from many of his peers, eschewing alcohol and the habit of contemporary physicians of administering crude drugs at their disposal in heroic quantities. This drove him to seek new methods of treating sickness. The outcome of his research was the application of physical treatment as a specialised form of treatment for which he coined the name 'Osteopathy'.

In 1892 A T Still opened a school in Kirksville, Missouri, for the teaching of osteopathy and it was from these small beginnings that osteopathy was brought to the UK around the turn of the century. The first school of osteopathy in the UK was set up in London in 1917 and over time other schools and colleges followed.

Osteopathic profession in the twenty first century

There are more than 5,200 osteopaths registered with the General Osteopathic Council, which includes some who practise abroad. Those practising in the UK carry out more than seven million consultations every year. Of those consultations, 54% of new patients are seen within one working day of contacting the osteopath and 95% are seen within one week.

Patient having treatmentThe profession attracts almost equal numbers of male and female practitioners, and some have already qualified in another healthcare practice such as medicine, nursing or physiotherapy.

The majority of UK osteopaths (86%) practise in England, with 3% in Scotland, 2.7% in Wales, 0.5% in Northern Ireland and 7.8% working overseas.

Most osteopaths are self-employed and work in the private sector, although some are working in multi-disciplinary environments within the NHS and in occupational healthcare in public bodies and private companies. All osteopaths, wherever they work, must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council.

Image by: Jesper Aggergaard

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