Osteopathy is a very safe, hands-on form of medicine, focusing on the body’s joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Osteopaths diagnose, treat and rehabilitate musculoskeletal disorders, and the effects of these on the patient’s general health. At Backs Etc. we use a variety of gentle techniques to free up joint restrictions, increase soft tissue and spinal flexibility, and improve circulation, alongside providing lifestyle advice and specific exercises relevant to each person and their condition. The therapy has been proven to be highly effective in helping with a wide range of conditions from headaches to back pain, with long term results. We aim to identify and address the root causes of your problems rather than just alleviating the symptoms, with the overriding philosophy that the whole body is connected and any pain or dysfunction is likely to have arisen due to your total history and lifestyle rather than just a discrete occurrence at the location of the pain. We liken it to a crime scene where the site of pain, that is crying out for attention, is the victim, but we use the clues to hunt down the perpetrator, thus achieving a long-term solution rather than just temporary symptom relief.
To take a simple example: if you come to us with knee pain, we will do much more than just examine and treat your knee. We want to know exactly what is going on with the knee, but also whether there may be involvement of other areas, such as the foot, hip, lower back and pelvis, and the associated soft tissues. For example, if the foot and ankle mechanics are compromised from a previous sprain, this could be causing the knee pain, as could issues elsewhere in the body that would not seem to be connected at first glance, including an inability to create proper core stability which will increase the load on the knee.
Osteopathy assumes that we humans can heal ourselves. We tell patients that their bodies are smart and doing the best they can to function in the situation they are in. In the modern world where poor movement, poor nutrition, stress and lack of sleep are epidemic it is not surprising that there is an also an epidemic of musculoskeletal pain. Often pain is indicative of a nervous system that is stressed and unhappy and trying to prevent you from moving in a way that it perceives to be damaging. The trick is to start nurturing yourself to reduce the obstacles to recovery. The body will then be able to function better and the nervous system will relax and be less likely to express pain. Osteopathy, breathing retraining, and good functional movement training can be the keystones of this approach, although we often discuss diet and other lifestyle factors with our patients to give as rounded an approach as possible.
Osteopaths currently study for a period of four years to complete a master’s degree (M.Ost). This is similar to a medical degree, with greater emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques and a further 1,500 hours of clinical application with patients. Osteopaths have been regulated by statute since 1993 and are required by law to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).