Patients visiting Osteopaths for the first time usually attend their initial appointment in some pain and perhaps trepidation about what to expect.
In fact, the visit should be pleasant, pain relieving and educational.
Initial visit and diagnosis:
Osteopaths want to discover the root cause of your condition and will take more time than a GP can to understand your symptoms fully.
Peter Black will take a detailed medical history including information about your lifestyle – such as your level of physical activity, your work environment and your diet – in order to ensure a long-term solution to your problem.
He will then examine the way your body moves. You will be asked to remove some of your clothing (you may wish to bring shorts) and perform a series of simple movements while Peter assesses your range of mobility by gently feeling your spine, shoulders and associated muscles.
He will then devise your treatment plan. (In cases where osteopathy cannot help, you will be referred to a doctor.)
Depending on your condition (for example back pain or sports injury) your treatment may involve one or more of the following techniques:
- Massage and stretching to promote relaxation
- Muscle resistance procedures to release tension
- Joint manipulation to restore mobility
- Acupuncture to reduce stress, calm acute injury and relieve pain
Even very gentle manipulation can result in an audible ‘crack’ – this is simply the sound of gas bubbles popping in the fluid pocket within the joint – but there is no ‘crack’ in the treatments Peter uses with about half his patients.
You will also be given exercises to do at home and advice on minimising the impact of your lifestyle on your condition. Osteopathy promotes your body’s ability to self heal and the exercises are vital.
You should expect to see considerable treatment benefit within two to six sessions, although sometimes a single treatment is enough. Do ask questions during your consultation if you are unsure of anything.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your visit:
- Prepare for your appointment by writing down your concerns or symptoms, bringing a list of all prescription and non-prescription medications you take, plus any vitamins or supplements, and noting your diet and exercise habits.
- Wear appropriate clothing so you can strip down to your underwear, bringing shorts if you prefer. Peter will need to be able to see and feel your back in order to treat you successfully.
- Keep to your treatment plan by following the exercises you are asked to do at home. The aim is to help your body heal itself to relieve your pain or resolve your injury so you are mobile, active and pain-free as soon as possible.
- Do not ignore lifestyle factors increasing your susceptibility to back pain. Sedentary work and leisure, and long hours at the computer, frequently contribute to backache and increase the likelihood of suffering a sports injury.