What can osteopathy help?

Most people are aware that osteopathy can be helpful to people suffering from back pain but it may surprise some of you to find out that osteopaths can successfully treat problems with any joint in the body.

Whether the problem is caused by sports injuries, wear and tear, illness/ disease, poor posture, repetitive strain or even as a result of pregnancy, your osteopath will work with you to rebalance the body structures and help you achieve the best state of health possible.

Osteopathy works on many levels affecting various body tissues. By working to rebalance any stresses or strains, address problems with posture, improve circulation of blood and lymph, osteopathy can have wide reaching benefits throughout the whole body.

Neck Pain

 iStock_000006300579XSmallThere are many causes of neck pain including stress and anxiety; injury including whiplash from accidents; extended periods spent at pc’s; prolonged use of musical instruments; driving or poor sleeping positions. Neck pain can also be caused by wear and tear and other disease processes or from problems with the discs.

The pain may radiate into your shoulder and/ or arm and you could even experience a prickly, tingly sensation in the arms and fingers. It is important to tell your osteopath as much detail as possible  to assist them in making a diagnosis.

Your osteopath will assess what is causing the problem and give treatment accordingly. This will be accompanied by home care advice and suggestions to help eliminate or minimise the problem.


Back Pain

iStock_000009099502XSmallRecent guidelines published by the NHS, have shown manual therapy including osteopathy to be an effective treatment in non-specific low back pain lasting over 6 weeks but less than a year. It is encouraging to see evidence based research highlighting the benefits of osteopathy.

Back pain may be caused by many different factors and combinations of them. In most cases there is a structural reason for the problem usually involving damage to the muscles, ligaments and bones and how they work together. This can be made worse by postural imbalances, bad layout of office equiptment,  poor seating, prolonged activity, etc.

Sometimes the problem may be caused by damage to a disc and could also involve irritation to a nerve causing pain to radiate across your buttock and into your leg. Other reasons for backache include wear and tear and the process of disease.

Your osteopath will ask you in depth questions about when the problem started and how it affects you? All this information is useful and combined with a physical examination, will assist in forming a diagnosis of what is causing the pain.

Shoulder Pain

iStock_000010696263XSmallBeing the most moveable joint in the body also makes the shoulder relatively unstable. The shoulder needs to be firmly anchored by it’s muscles, ligaments and tendons and any injury or overuse can cause instability and pain. Injury can lead to underuse of the shouder and in turn can lead to conditions such as ‘frozen shoulder’. Degeneration also causes pain and discomfort as do many diseases (such as gallbladder, liver or heart disease) any of which may cause pain to radiate to the shoulder.

Some occupations seem to be more prone to shoulder problems including any involving repetitive movements like cashiers, workers using keyboards for long periods, plasterers, hairdressers and also people exposed to vibration from machinery.

Athletes are also susceptible to shoulder injuries especially those involved in throwing activites, contact sports like rugby and swimming or diving. Cyclists having sustained a fall often suffer ongoing instability problems.

Your osteopath will carry out extensive orthopaedic testing to find out what is causing the problem before commencing treatment. Aftercare advice will include stretches and exercises to help with rehabilitation of the injury.

Elbow Pain

iStock_000004108282XSmallIs a relatively common problem and can be caused by inflammed tendons and bursa on different areas of the joint. The tendons become inflammed due to muscles tightening from overuse or injury often due to repetitive movements and sports like tennis and golf or from prolonged periods of writing.

Strains involving stretches or tears to the ligaments supporting the joint can happen when the elbow is over extended. The amount of ligaments involved will determine how much pain and discomfort will result from the injury.

Another cause of elbow pain is entrapment of the ulnar nerve running from the elbow down the inside of your arm to your pinky and ring finger. This can become pinched due to swelling of other structures or even just by normal structures in the elbow. Arthritis and gout can be yet more causes of elbow pain.

Your osteopath will investigate your injury to determine what structure is causing the problem and work with you to develop the most effective treatment plan including home care advice. Occassionally to assist in the healing process, supports may be recommended.

Wrist & Hand Pain

iStock_000002609267XSmallWith this area containing so many small bones there are even more ligaments holding them in place and tendons to attach muscles, allowing movement. When they are damaged it can  lead to a host of different problems.

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tough cords attaching the muscles to the bones. While it can happen in any joint it most frequently occurs in the wrist and fingers. When the tendon is irritated, swelling and pain result.

Tenosynovitis is inflammation of the lining of the sheaths which hold the tendons, this is the most frequent tendon problem but can be combined with tendonitis making the problem worse. It is generally caused by overuse, injury, strain or excessive exercise. The thumb is the area affected most often.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a relatively common complaint where the nerve running from the forearm to the hand is compressed in the wrist causing pain, numbness, tingling and sometimes muscle weakness. If you have any of these symptoms it is advisable to get an early diagnosis as manual therapy and exercise may significantly help.

There are many other causes of hand and wrist pain including various forms of arthritis and ganglion cysts which are small fluid filled sacs.

Some people are more prone to these problems because of the nature of their work or interests. Office workers and people using keyboards for long periods of the day, musicians including guitarists who use their fingers to play their instrument.

Your osteopath is trained to identify what is causing the problem and form a treatment plan with a view to achieving the best possible outcome.

Hip Pain

Hip painIt is possible that problems with your lower back can be referred to the hip area and also that hip pain itself may be referred to the thigh or groin area. Through a series of tests your osteopath will be  able to determine which structure is causing the problem.

The force required to walk, run or jump means our hip joints have to cope with more than our body’s own weight. To assist the hip, the ligaments, muscles, tendons and bursa help shield the joint. When one or more become inflammed through trauma or overuse, the hip does not function so well and is painful. Overuse can also cause the cartilage to wear away causing arthritis.

Athletes who do a lot of running may get hip and knee pain from inflammation of the iliotibial band and can certainly benefit from manual therapy with prescribed stretches to alleviate the problem.

Any condition that causes inflammation levels to rise in the body (rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc), may also affect the hip joint as the joint space is small and pressure inside it leads to pain and difficulty weight bearing.

Your osteopath will be able to help you overcome the discomfort from any of these and many other hip problems and work with you to restore optimum function.

Knee Pain

iStock_000008594630XSmallThere are many possible causes of knee pain and taking an in depth case history looking at exactly where the pain is, how the injury happened and when it hurts; combined with your osteopath’s skilled examination and orthopaedic testing will enable a correct diagnosis to be made and an effective treatment plan to be formed.

As well as pain, you may suffer from your knee popping or clicking, giving way, crunching or grinding, locking or possibly swelling. They all indicate different structures that may be affected, so they are important to tell your osteopath about.

Foot/Ankle Pain

iStock_000004292334XSmallCan be caused by many different factors, from sprains, strains and overuse injuries to the agony of heel spurs and plantarfasciitis. There are also many others including Morton’s Neuroma, Sever’s Disease, metatarsalgia, bunions, etc.

It is important to obtain a diagnosis as quickly as possible so that treatment can begin and rehabilation of the injury is not delayed. A treatment plan will be tailored to your requirments.

Your osteopath may suggest some exercises to build strength and support the injured joint as well as stretches to ease any associated pain and help prevent it from happening again.

Sports Injuries

iStock_000009559099XSmallWhile we all know the benefits to our health of taking part in sport and exercising generally, we also realise that sometimes we can get injured as a consequence.

These injuries can be from overuse, tiredness resulting in error, poor training practices,  accidents/ trauma, improper equipment, lack of fitness, etc.

Your osteopath will work with you as they realise you will not want to interrupt your training schedule. Only in exceptional circumstances will you be asked to take time off as generally improvements can be made during a session and advice given so that you can modify and continue your training.

It is important that you follow the aftercare advice given to you by your osteopath including doing any stretches or exercises. They will be happy to discuss these matters with your coaches if you wish, so that you have a team working together to your benefit.

Postural Fatigue

iStock_000000185352XSmallAs time goes by, bad habits such as slouching and inactivity can cause muscle fatigue and tension, eventually leading to poor posture which may result in back and joint pain.

Different careers bring their own unique difficulties – drivers often suffer from lower back and neck pain as a result of sitting for prolonged periods; if you answer the work phone on the same side every time, it can lead to neck and shoulder problems; some workers including nurses and builders have to lift heavy loads and suffer lower back pain as a result.

Having previously experienced an injury, you may find that you have altered your posture to compensate for and cope with the injury. Once these patterns have become habit it is difficult to realise they are there.

Your osteopath will examine you and assess your posture. They will inform you of any areas needing to be addressed and work with you to develop a plan of how you will be able to overcome these postural issues and return to a more neutral position, so relieving stress and strain on your body.


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