Osteopathic Medicine

What is Osteopathy and Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic medicine is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

What does the Osteopathic Medicine treatment involve?

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.

An osteopath uses touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.

How does Osteopathic Medicine Differ around the world?

In the United States of America, you have to complete a post graduate degree in Osteopathic medicine which provides the same rights to practice medicine as an ordinary medical degree in all of the 50 United States of America. The difference is the doctors have the post nominal lettering DO instead of MD and a DO has usually received (500+) additional hours in musculoskeletal medicine training at university.

Outside the USA in the British commonwealth countries and Europe, Osteopathy is considered a seperate profession from medicine but you still have to complete an undergraduate degree to practice as an osteopath.

What Education and Training must an Osteopath complete to register with GOsC in the United Kingdom?

Training as an osteopath takes 4-5 years to complete either a Bachelors or Masters of Osteopathy / Osteopathic Medicine as a recognised qualification to practice as an osteopath and register with the GOsC. In which the first two years of the course resembles the first two years of a medical degree.  

Osteopaths learn anatomy, physiology, embryology, Osteopathic techiques, clinical medicine and pathophysiology, clinical diagnosis and differential diagnosis. The most advanced training teaches managing clinical uncertainty in clinical practice.

Osteopathic students are expected to complete 1000-1200 hours of clinical training under the supervision of qualifiied registered osteopaths.

What is a Registered Osteopath?

The title osteopath’is protected by law. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety.

What continued professional development and training must Osteopaths complete to remain registered with GOsC?

Osteopaths must complete a minimum of 30 hours continued professional development each year to maintain their skills and knowedge based to remain registered with the general osteopathic council. At least 15 hours should be completed 'with others' where osteopaths go on training courses, share complicated case histories for example and 15 hours of self study this could be reading medical text books or reading current research and journals articles. But most complete more than 30 hours a year. 

The Clinical Setting in which Osteopaths Practice in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Osteopaths are mostly self-employed in the private sector, where they are either practicing as a sole practitioner or part of a team osteopaths or part of a multi-disciplinary practice with other healthcare professionals. Osteopathy unfortunately has limited availability on the NHS. This is partly because of the lack of funding available for Osteopathy within the NHS.

What should I expect when I go for an appointment with an Osteopath?

On your first visit,  there is some time taken to complete a medical history, which will include questions about your general health and lifestyle as well as asking you about the symptoms or injuries that you are seeking help with. With your consent they will then perform a physical examination which is likely to involve the osteopath touching the areas of your body that are experiencing pain and asking you to move around. They may also look at test results, x-rays and scan reports if these are available.

What to expect when an Osteopath examines or treats you?

It may be necessary for the osteopath, Ian Lewis to ask you to remove some clothing, so that they can see and touch the areas of the body causing concern. If you are uncomfortable undressing to your underwear the osteopath may be able to suggest clothing, such as shorts and T shirt, or close fitting garments, that will enable them to work effectively without making you feel uncomfortable, so please do discuss this. You are welcome to bring someone with you into the examination room if this puts you at ease and you may wish to seek an osteopath of the same sex as yourself, we can help you find an osteopath that suits your needs.

Osteopathic Diagnosis and Management Plan?

Then a diagnosis will be given and discuss a course of treatment with you. This may involve visiting them a few times for manual therapy, some exercises that you can do by yourself and some lifestyle changes. They will discuss the likely cost of this treatment and ask for your consent to begin treatment.

If the osteopath believes that your condition would not be improved with Osteopathy / Osteopathic Medicine they will refer you to your GP or another suitably qualified professional and may provide you with notes explaining their diagnosis and why we feel osteopathic treatment would not help you.