Osteopathy originated in America in the late 19th century and has developed in UK within the private sector outside of the hospital setting. Consequently due to the lack of contact between doctors and osteopaths when training and in hospitals most doctors in the UK have a poor understanding of exactly what osteopathy involves and can sometimes be sceptical or even weary of patients consulting osteopaths. This is largely unwarranted as in many respects osteopaths and physiotherapist work in very similar ways. Traditionally osteopathy focused on high velocity thrusts (HVT's) or "adjustments" to the spinal joints. The misconception that the osteopaths just click the joints of the spine sometimes without warning is still held by some people. However the truth is that modern osteopaths are trained in a wide variety of hands on manual therapy techniques for ALL the muscles and joints of the body, not just the back. Furthermore, since osteopathy became a fully regulated profession in the UK over 10 years ago, osteopaths are now highly trained in diagnosing various sports injury, neurological and orthopaedic problems using mainstream clinical methodology. Also, osteopaths are more aware than ever of contradicatons to certain techniques and the informed consent of their patients.
Training to be an Osteopath or Physiotherapist takes up to 5 years full time. During a consultation osteopaths and physios usually assess musculoskeletal problems by observing a client’s posture, using highly skilled palpation to feel for tight muscles and stiff joints and use detailed bed side orthopaedic and neurological tests. When it comes to treatment however not all therapists will work in the same way, especially when it comes to hands on treatment since this is as much an art as it is a science and therefore dependant on the skills of the particular therapist. At one end of the scale some therapists like to use lots of HVT manipulation without any or only very little treatment applied to the soft tissues; whilst at the other end of the scale some therapist rely on extremely gentle “cranial” techniques and hardly ever perform the more vigorous techniques. At Spine Plus we only recruit the very best applicants to work in our clinics, those who can demonstrate excellent clinic reasoning and who are highly skilled in a variety of treatment techniques.
Our osteopaths and physiotherapists work together sharing knowledge and experiences. They take a thorough “no nonsense” approach. Where necessary this involves careful and precise joint manipulation, such techniques are only performed with the patient’s full consent. We also use plenty of soft tissue techniques, including massage, applied to sore tight muscles. One of our hallmarks is that our Osteopaths use medical acupuncture / acupressure (depending on the patient’s preference). This requires additional postgraduate training which they have all undertaken. We have found medical acupuncture to be particularly effective when combined with traditional Osteopathic / physiotherapy manual treatment. Also, like most physios our osteopaths are trained in the use of electrotherapy such as ultrasound which can be very useful for certain ligament and tendon problems.
This all adds up to mean our osteopaths and physios have all the necessary skills and ability to provide the gold standard of treatment.