Osteopathy is a drug-free, non-invasive primary health care therapy that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, including the joints, muscles and spine. This therapy is a unique 'whole body' approach to health care. Osteopathy emphasises a holistic approach to wellness and the skilled use of a range of manual and physical treatment interventions in the prevention and treatment of disease.
It works with the structure and function of the body and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.
Osteopaths work to restore ones body to a state of balance without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopathy uses touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, relieve muscle tension and to enhance the blood and nerve supply to ones tissues and to enhance the body's healing mechanisms.
Osteopaths' patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant ladies, babies and children as well as sports people. Treatment is sought for a variety of conditions, including back pain, postural changes in pregnancy, postural problems due to driving long distances or work strain as well as the pain of arthritis and sports injuries.
The main tools in osteopathic diagnosis include listening to the patients case history, examining muscles and joints and observing movements. Results of scans can also be read and used in treatment if applicable.
There is good evidence that osteopathy is effective in treating persistent low back pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it as a treatment for this condition.
The title 'osteopath' is protected by law. This means it is against the law for anyone to call themselves osteopath unless they are registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). The GOsC sets and promotes high standards of competency and safety. All osteopaths are regulated by the GOsC.