What is Osteopathy?
Osteopaths treat muscle and joint pain anywhere in the body using a range of specialised hands-on techniques, including massage, joint manipulation, trigger-point therapy, stretching and exercise prescription. We adopt a holistic approach, applying the principle that a person's well-being depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues working smoothly together. We treat the whole body and not just the painful area, tackling the cause and not just the symptoms, and our overall aim is to restore the optimal functioning of the body and alleviate pain.
Osteopaths study for four to five years to obtain a Bachelor of Science Honours degree, which is similar to a medical degree as it includes the study of anatomy and pathology, but provides more rigorous training on musculoskeletal disorders. By the time they qualify, osteopaths will have gained over 1,000 hours of clinical experience.
Osteopathy is a statutory registered profession, meaning that all osteopaths working in the UK must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) which regulates the practice in the UK. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC so you can rest assured that you will be in safe hands. The British Medical Association has produced guidance for GPs confirming that it is safe to refer to registered osteopaths as they are statutorily regulated and fully accountable to the patient.
It is not surprising that many people find it difficult to understand the difference between osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors, not least because all three professions tend to treat similar conditions. In short, the three professions differ primarily in their professional training and emphasis during treatment. Physiotherapists tend to focus on exercises, while chiropractors usually focus on manipulation of the spine. Osteopaths combine exercise prescription, manipulation of all joints as well as soft tissue massage so as to provide a holistic and integrated approach.
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