What Should I Expect From My Visit To An Osteopath?

An appointment lasts up to an hour. Appointments for babies and small children are shorter. At the first visit Susan will take a thorough case history. She will want to know as much as possible about the symptoms, how they began and what makes them worse or better. Any additional information about previous investigations or treatment will be useful.

Copyright Jan Chlebik

She will ask about general health, past medical history, medication and any accidents, injuries, illnesses or surgery. She will then ask the patient to undress to underclothes and carry out a physical examination to assess the extent and cause of the problem. This examination will include asking the patient to perform movements to demonstrate how well the body is functioning. Susan may decide to add some medical tests to the examination, for example taking the blood pressure, listening to the heart with a stethoscope or looking into the eyes with an ophthalmoscope. Osteopathic examination and treatment is not painful. The patient may be in acute pain when they arrive for treatment but an osteopath needs to work with a relaxed patient rather than someone who is tensing up against pain. Susan will go to considerable lengths to find a pain-free way of completing the treatment session.

When the initial examination is completed, Susan will explain her findings and suggest possible treatment options. It is often not possible, on the first visit, to make an absolutely definite diagnosis, particularly if the patient is in a lot of pain and there is extensive protective muscle spasm. Frequently, the problem needs to be unwound gradually over days or weeks. The patient usually experiences some symptom relief after each treatment but full recovery tends to take time. The body repairs itself slowly and carefully. The osteopath’s aim is to correct mechanical problems and strains so that the body can get on and heal itself. Susan emphasises that the best results happen over time and that osteopathic work is not a “quick fix”.

If the various causes of the pain have accumulated over a long time, it may take weeks or months to get the body working properly again. Exercise, rest, change of working position, orthotics, a visit to the GP or further investigation by x-ray may be needed to complete the treatment program or refer to another health care practitioner.

Susan’s policy is to give some treatment if at all possible on the first visit and so provide some symptom relief. She will also indicate approximately how long the course of treatment might take. Each subsequent treatment will involve examination to assess progress, treatment and discussion about lifestyle issues to support recovery.