What training and qualifications do osteopaths have?
All osteopaths receive training at colleges approved by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). These 4-5 year courses cover a very wide range of subjects including anatomy,
physiology, pathology, clinical methodology, biomechanics, osteology, cardiovascular and
gastro-intestinal studies and osteopathic techniques.
These subjects are all necessary to ensure osteopaths can act as Primary Care Physicians.
This means we are trained to diagnose not only bio-mechanical problems but
have a good grounding in general medicine.
This enables us to assess whether your problem is suitable for osteopathic treatment or
whether you need to be referred to your doctor or a specialist.
All trainee osteopaths are required to spend many hours treating patients under the
supervision of qualified clinical tutors and only qualify after rigorous final examinations.
The title osteopath is protected by law now and all osteopaths are registered with the
Should I see a doctor first?
This is not necessary as osteopaths are trained to diagnose and should you require further investigations, or your condition would be dealt with better by your doctor or specialist, we
will refer you as necessary.
However, if you will be seeking to claim your treatment costs back from a private insurance
company, many will insist on a referral from your GP to your osteopath, so in this
circumstance, you will have to see your GP first.
How will you know what is wrong with me?
Osteopaths are trained to diagnose and carry out a detailed case history and examination including many of the tests you might associate with a doctor. Should you require any
further tests such as x-rays, MRI scans or blood tests we will liaise with your doctor or
specialist to ensure your problem is diagnosed accurately.
What will my doctor think of me seeing an osteopath?
Most doctors are now in favour of osteopathic treatment and indeed we treat some of the local GPs. Recently the Royal College of Physicians advised doctors to refer patients for
manipulation for mechanical back pain. Our relationship with local GPs and specialists is
very good so you should find your doctor supportive.
Should I bring my x-rays or MRI scans with me?
Yes. If you have had any investigations already carried out these can be very useful in
diagnosing your problem. We are trained to read x-rays and scans from a mechanical
What should I wear when I come in for treatment?
You may be asked to undress down to your underwear, depending on the area that
requires examination. Patients are welcome to wear shorts with elasticated waistbands if
they feel more comfortable and if you would like a friend or relative to be in with you during
examination and treatment we are very happy to do so. Should you request not to remove
items of clothing your osteopath will still be more than happy to assess you however, it is important to note it may mean the assessment is more limited.
Does treatment hurt?
Treatment can be uncomfortable for brief periods of time, but we always keep this to a
minimum and make sure you are happy with the level of discomfort you feel. However, the
majority of the treatment is painless and most people find it quite a pleasant experience.
There is often a period of time after treatment when you may feel achy or sore, and this
may be felt for around 48 hours after your visit.
How long do consultations and treatments last?
Our consultations last half an hour. On your first visit most of this time is used for a case history and examination, but subsequent visits usually comprise of a brief check on any
examination changes and then you will receive up to 25 minutes of treatment.
The number of treatments you require depends on the severity and nature of your
condition, your age, state of health and often level of fitness. You may only need one visit,
but more commonly several sessions will be necessary. We should be able to give you
some idea of how quickly it will progress after we have seen you on one or two occasions.
Do osteopaths treat just backs?
No. Osteopaths treat the whole body. Any injury of pain felt in the body’s framework,
(joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc) can be treated by an osteopath. For more of a
specific idea of certain conditions visit the what we treat page for more information.
What is the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?
Both professions treat the same group of bio-mechanical problems, but have different
philosophy. As a result the treatment is a little different.
Chiropractors usually concentrate on the high velocity “click” manoeuvres to correct the
joint position whereas osteopaths use more soft tissue and articulatory techniques as well
as high velocity thrusts, as they are called, to achieve our goals.
Chiropractic treatment is usually much shorter in duration and patients are often seen
several times a week.