Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can benefit from osteopathy?
- What problems can be treated?
- What medical conditions can be helped?
- How long are appointment sessions?
- What to expect on the first visit?
- Is osteopathic treatment painful?
- Are there adverse effects to consider?
- What must one do following treatment?
- How many treatments are needed?
- How much does an assessment/treatment cost?
- Do health plans pay for services?
Who can benefit from osteopathy?
Osteopathy is effective for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. It offers an approach with gentle non-invasive techniques. An osteopathic assessment is so refined that the osteopath can detect dysfunction without necessarily even having the benefit of a specific complaint, often difficult to obtain from very young children.
Osteopathy is equally beneficial to athletes (whether professional or armature), individuals with problems stemming from a sedentary job or life style, those exposed to occupational hazards, and to people suffering from a wide range of traumas.
Osteopathy can be a complement to medical care for women throughout their pregnancy and to both mothers and babies immediately after the delivery. In fact, osteopathy can be very effective in assisting the mother’s body to restore and resume function in the post-partum period (see Newborn babies, pregnancy sections below)
Osteopathy assists patients to “manage” their own health so that “good health” is restored and maintained whenever possible. The philosophy of osteopathy promotes ‘health’ as opposed to ‘illness’, teaches people to learn to appreciate a quality of life and encourages opportunities to live it to the fullest.
Osteopathy customizes treatments for each individual according to his or her age, physical characteristics and specific reactions to treatments.
Among the frequent discomforts experienced during pregnancy are back pain and poor digestion (nausea, vomiting, constipation), as well as a general sluggishness or bloated feeling. Osteopathy can treat these functional disorders with skillful palpation techniques to help the patient’s body to adapt to the new condition of pregnancy. Harmony and balance for the mother will also increase the comfort of the newborn. It is most important to note that visits to the osteopath do not replace the necessary schedule of visits to the obstetrician or midwife during pregnancy. hands-on-london.com/
Childbirth can mean an initial trauma for the newborn baby, especially to the cranial region. There may be resulting issues such as regurgitation, sleep disturbances and cranial asymmetry. All these can be considerably reduced through osteopathy. One example of a procedure used in childbirth that may result in trauma for the newborn is that of epidural anesthesia. While this adjunct may bring relief to the mother, it can induce disturbances in the baby such as those mentioned above that the osteopath will be able to detect. In difficult cases where there was use of forceps, cupping devices or resuscitation during childbirth, osteopathy becomes an indispensable aid to counteract the traumatism inflicted upon the baby. It is important to recognize the benefits that can be gained at an early stage and act as prevention for further difficulties. osteohome.com/
Generally, the most common complaints during adolescence follow sports injuries. However, an increasing number of adolescents are experiencing functional disorders mainly due to their life style (increased sedentary time using computers, T.V. and video games, improper diet, lack of exercise etc.…). A common presentation of poor posture and dental issues are often seen with adolescent patients. It is noteworthy with this age group that the development of posture is closely linked to dentition. (www.drfarid.com) As a consequence, misaligned teeth can induce poor posture, and the opposite can occur. In these cases, it is important for the osteopath to determine the origin of the problem and work in partnership with the orthodontist if a course of dental treatment has been planned. In addition, the onset of puberty often exacerbates the early traumas experienced during childbirth and early childhood that may have been overlooked. These can cause significant difficulties for the young person in the area of self-esteem and confidence, learning and acceptance among peers. Intervention through osteopathy can be a major factor in facilitating wellbeing during these difficult years.
Athletes (both recreational and professional) often sustain injuries through practice and performance of their sport. These injuries are registered as ‘trauma’ to their bodies. Resolving the trauma helps the athletes to perform more efficiently. Some athletes may develop biomechanical problems which if not resolved can hinder their ability to perform at maximum capacity. These can be rectified through osteopathy.
Aging is a natural physiological process. One part of the body that is greatly affected by the process of aging is the musculoskeletal system (in most cases arthritis in the hands, hips and knees). As one get older, the elasticity present within the body deteriorates and this increases the chance of injuring the soft tissues and bony structures. Osteopathic treatment for the elderly can help to restore mobility and relieve pain.
What problems can be treated?
Common problems that are treated:
- Back and neck pain
- Shoulder and hip pain
- TMJ Dysfunction
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Repetitive Strain Syndrome
- Sports Injuries
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Head Trauma causing disturbances of sight, hearing, taste, cognition etc.
What medical conditions can be helped?
Medical Conditions that can be helped:
- Neurological Dysfunctions
- Urological Conditions
- Gynecological Conditions
- Cardiovascular Conditions
- Pulmonary Conditions
- Swallowing difficulties (children)
- Digestive problems
- Bed Wetting (children)
The first visit
Patients are asked to fill in the health history form and submit in advance or bring with them to the first appointment.
The first visit to see the osteopath will last about an hour. A full medical history will be taken and important information about the patient’s lifestyle and diet will also be discussed. If the patient needs a family representative (as may be in the case of a child, senior or if there is a language issue), this person will also be in the room during the assessment. The patient will be asked about present symptoms and to describe any factors that are affecting them. It is important to mention any physical, mental and/or emotional ‘traumas’ that have been experienced by the patient, as these are relevant to the osteopath’s assessment.
In order for the physical assessment to be done, the patient will be asked to undress (it is best to wear undergarments that one is comfortable in). This will allow the osteopath to clearly observe the structure, symmetry and movement of the body. The patient will then be asked to perform a series of simple movements. This allows the osteopath to identify which body structures and/or movements are causing pain and/or discomfort.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the patient will then be treated if it is appropriate to do so.
Osteopaths work closely with General Practitioners and other Health Care Professionals. If the osteopath determines that osteopathic treatment is not appropriate or feels the patient would benefit from another type of intervention, a referral can be made.
How long are appointment sessions?
Most appointments require 45-50 minutes with the exception of initial (new) patient consultations, which take extra time (up to an hour).
Is osteopathic treatment painful?
Ordinarily no. However, it is not uncommon for some patients to feel achy or sore the day after treatment as the body responds to the osteopathic techniques. This is not too dissimilar to the response that most of us feel the day after a new exercise program.
Are there adverse effects to consider?
No, there are no adverse effects from having osteopathic treatments. The soreness or any other symptoms that one may experience in the day or two following treatment are simply due to the body adjusting itself and should not last. As mentioned before, any symptoms that do last should be reported to one’s osteopath.
What to do following osteopathic treatment sessions?
After each treatment, it is advisable to walk for 5-10 minutes before getting into a vehicle. Walking will help the body settle into its new balance. Dealing with traffic can be stressful, and depending upon the particular situation, may cause tissues to tighten up again. If possible, it is best to take the time to walk first.
Although one may feel good after a treatment session (perhaps better than one has felt for years), the body remains in a vulnerable state for several hours. It is best to let the body rest and heal. Though the body has been restored to an improved state of functioning, it has not yet healed. Healing takes time. The body should be treated with respect. One must avoid any strenuous activity, especially sudden jolting movements, for one or two days after each treatment.
It is advisable to drink plenty of water for one to two days following treatment. Some patients have reported feeling severely fatigued following an osteopathic treatment. As tissues free up, previously trapped metabolites may be released into the bloodstream. It is a good idea to flush them out. Regarding choice of drinks - water is best!!
Take note of how one feels
Depending upon the particular condition, one may feel varied symptoms after an osteopathic treatment. Some patients feel soreness initially. This is a typical response and means the body is adjusting. Remember these symptoms (or jot down in writing) so they can be reported at the next treatment. If however, the symptoms last for more than a few days, one is advised to consult the osteopath.
Too much treatment of one’s body in too short an interval can be over-stimulating and even damaging. It is best to avoid scheduling acupuncture, physical therapy, massage or other types of physical treatment for five days or so after each osteopathic treatment.
How much does an osteopathy assessment/treatment cost? / Do health plans pay for osteopathy services?
The recommended fee guide is 90-130 dollars. This amount is not based on time but per session.
It is worth checking with one’s insurance plan, as most extended health care plans will pay an annual portion for osteopathy.
How many osteopathic treatments will be needed?
There is no standard answer to this question. Every patient is seen as an individual and recommendations made after initial consultation are entirely based on the assessment and the professional opinion of the osteopath. Often the patient notices positive changes within three treatment sessions. The average number of recommended sessions is quoted as 2-8. Some patients with a chronic or longstanding history may choose to return regularly for preventative osteopathic intervention for ongoing postural maintenance or relief from chronic pain.
Photos courtesy of Kampfner.
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