What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an established recognised system of diagnosis and treatment that lays its main emphasis on the structural integrity of the body.

It is distinctive in the fact that is recognises much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure, as well as damage caused to it by diseases.

Osteopathy uses many of the diagnostic procedures involved in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis. Its main strength however lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit the needs of the individual patient.

Founded by American Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in 1874, Osteopathy is a system of therapy that emphasizes normal body mechanics and manipulation to correct faulty body structures.

Osteopathy is a complementary medicine that not only takes in the physical symptoms but the lifestyle, attitudes and current health of the patient.

Osteopaths diagnose the cause of pain and can often do a great deal to help reduce the level of your pain and suffering.

What is Cranial Osteopathy?

Cranial Osteopathy is a gentle and subtle extension of osteopathic principles. It has a wide range of applications, from birth trauma and colic in the new-born baby, through to the complex results of whiplash injury, to many painful conditions in the frail and elderly.

Your Pain

But what directly causes the pain? Often, it is the result of localized swelling of injured tissue, which creates pressure on nerves.

  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Rheumatic pain
  • Period pain
  • Pain from injury
  • Sports injury
  • Arthritic pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Leg pain

The skilled techniques of osteopathy can allow you a speedy return to normal activity. If you have had the pain for a long time and other forms of treatment have not helped, osteopathic treatment may be beneficial, although it may require time and patience. The Osteopath will look at how your whole body functions and so be able to reduce strain on the painful area caused by mechanical problems elsewhere.

There are times when it is wise for you to take medication as well as receiving osteopathic treatment. Osteopaths frequently work in close co-operation with your doctor.

Why an Osteopath?

Osteopaths help to reduce tissue inflammation by a number of methods ranging from massage of muscles and connective tissues to manipulation and stretching of joints

This helps to reduce muscle spasm and increase mobility, helping to create a healthier state in which damaged tissues can heal.

Much long-term, recurrent pain is caused by degenerative changes to the body's framework. Nobody can reverse the process of ageing. However, osteopathic treatment using gentle, manual techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments may often ease pain, reduce swelling and improve the mobility and range of joint movement. Pain control is an important part of treatment and osteopaths give guidance on simple self help methods to use at home.


  • Osteopaths are skilled health care professionals
  • Osteopaths deal with pain every day.
  • UK osteopaths treat six million people every year who are suffering from pain.
  • Osteopaths can help you both with treatment and advice on self-help.
  • Osteopaths treat acute pain.
  • Osteopaths treat chronic pain
  • Osteopaths treat to prevent pain recurring.

Visiting an Osteopath

When you visit an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken and you will be given an examination.

You will normally be asked to remove some of your clothing and to perform a simple series of movements. The osteopath will then use his or her highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.

The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray or blood tests. This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed with you. Osteopathy is patient centred, which means the treatment is geared to you as an individual.


Many private health insurance schemes give benefit for osteopathic treatment. Some companies will reimburse the total fee that you have paid to the Osteopath, some only a percentage. Most companies require a GP or specialist referral. All insurance companies have help lines to explain your actual benefit and methods of claiming.

Osteopath and Patient Protection

Osteopaths are trained to recognize and treat many causes of pain. Osteopathy is an established system of diagnosis and manual treatment, which is recognized by the British Medical Association as a discrete clinical discipline.

For the last sixty years, osteopaths have worked within a system of voluntary regulation that set standards of training practice.

In 1993 Osteopathy became the first major complementary health care profession to be accorded statutory recognition under the 1993 Osteopaths Act. This has culminated in the opening of the Statutory Register of Osteopaths by the  General Osteopathic Council in May 1998. Only those practitioners able to show that they have been in safe and competent practice of Osteopathy will be allowed onto the register and in the future all Osteopaths will be trained to the same high rigorous standards. All Osteopaths will need to have medical malpractice insurance and to follow a strict code of conduct.

Patients will have the same safeguards as when currently they consult a doctor or dentist.

How is Osteopathy organised and regulated?

If you have other questions that we have not answered here, don't hesitate to contact us!

Here at Helix House our resident Osteopaths are Clive Lindley-JonesSusan Farwell and Yan-Chee Yu