- Do I have a say over what treatment I get?
Absolutely! A key aspect of osteopathic treatment and medical treatment in general is the concept of informed consent. It is an important part of my job as an osteopath to inform you, the patient, what I believe is the cause of your problem, the treatment options available, and the benefits, risks and alternatives. With this information you are in a position to decide what treatment you would like to have (if any!). It is also worth noting that informed consent is an ongoing process: if at some point you change your mind about a certain technique or treatment approach, you can of course let me know and we will discuss the alternatives.
- Do I have to get ‘cracked’ or ‘clicked’?
No, not if you’d prefer not to. The ‘cracking’ or ‘clicking’ of joints — referred to as ‘manipulation’ or a ‘high velocity thrust’ by osteopaths — is just one of many treatment techniques available. Manipulations can be an effective way of releasing restricted joints or increasing quality of movement, but there are excellent alternatives. Please don’t be put off osteopathy because you’re worried about manipulation, as there’s lots of other stuff we osteopaths can do!
- Is there somewhere I can wait if I’m early?
Yes, the treatment room has a sliding door which can be pulled across if you need to wait for a few minutes. The waiting area is a bit small, though, so I suggest you try not to arrive more than 5-10 minutes before your appointment.
- Do you have a toilet?
Yes, there’s one to the left of the waiting area as you come in.
- Can I bring someone else along to my appointment?
Yes, definitely! If you feel more comfortable with someone else present, or need to bring a child with you, you are more than welcome to bring someone else along to your appointment. They can either come into the treatment room with you, or wait in the waiting room while you are treated. There is space for maximum two additional people if need be, but it could be a bit of a squeeze! Some patients prefer to have a chaperone present during examination and/or treatment. Unfortunately I do not have anyone available to provide a chaperone, but by all means feel free to bring along a friend or relative if this is something you would prefer.
- Will I need to undress?
Firstly, and most importantly, this is up to you. As the patient, you are of course free to decide all aspects of your treatment, including whether to undress. From an osteopath’s point of view, it is best if you are happy to undress to your underwear. During assessment and diagnosis it is useful to be able to see the area of pain or dysfunction, but also the related parts of the body such as the spine, hips and legs. And when treating, it is preferable to be able to work directly onto the skin where this is appropriate. However, it is most definitely possible to examine and treat a patient through clothing, and if you are not comfortable with undressing just mention this to your osteopath (either before the appointment or at the start). Your treatment will be just as effective, but your osteopath may just have to work a bit harder!
- Will I get treatment in my first appointment?
In almost all cases I am able to give patients hands-on treatment in the first appointment. The first part of that initial appointment is spent taking a detailed case history, and with the patient’s consent, carrying out a thorough physical examination. Based on this information the patient will be given an explanation of their condition, and the available treatment options. In a few cases it is not appropriate or possible to offer osteopathic treatment, say because the condition is not considered treatable with osteopathy (e.g. a fractured bone), or because you the patient decide that you do not want to proceed with any of the treatment options discussed with you.
- How many treatments will I need?
Of course, each patient is different, but in my experience most patients see some significant improvement in their condition after the first one to three appointments (typically weekly at that stage), and then require a few more appointments to fully treat the condition and to make lasting, longer-term changes such as incorporating stretches and exercises. Many patients then choose to book back in for occasional ‘maintenance’ treatments, such as every 4-6 weeks, to be reassessed, review exercises they may have been given, and to have any treatment that may be required.
- OK, what are ‘maintenance’ treatments, and will I need them?
‘Maintenance’ treatments, are occasional treatment sessions which aim to prevent your condition from recurring. It is sometimes described as a ‘prevention rather than cure’ approach — i.e. an opportunity to identify a recurrence of symptoms, or even a new condition, before it has become a significant issue. It varies from patient to patient, but maintenance treatments are typically 4-6 weeks apart, and may involve a discussion of your progress and any new symptoms, a re-examination and reassessment, some ongoing treatment and a review of any prescribed exercises/stretches. Some patients, even once symptom-free ask to have what they call an ‘MOT’ treatment from time to time to have an opportunity to review things like posture, muscle balance and joint mobility. In short, no you don’t need ‘maintenance’ treatment, but for most patients they are a good idea!
- Will my symptoms just come back after a while?
This really depends on a number of factors, such as what your underlying condition is, and how well you are able to stick to any exercises/stretches you are prescribed. Many patients experience ‘episodic’ symptoms, which tend to recur every year or so, sometimes for what seems like no reason. After treatment patients may still have occasional episodes, but they tend to be less frequent, less severe and shorter in duration. I have a keen interest in patient rehabilitation, so take a long-term treatment approach which aims to address any underlying triggers, and to equip patients (for example with some simple stretches) to be better able to manage any recurrence themselves.