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  • Can anyone call themself an Osteopath?
    The title 'osteopath' is protected by law, only those registered with The General Osteopathic Council are entitled to practice as osteopaths. Unregistered practice is a criminal offence in the UK. You can search for your Osteopath as well as others in your area via the General Osteopathic Council website.
  • Do I need a GP referral to see an Osteopath?
    Referral by a GP is not necessary; most patients 'self refer' to an osteopath for treatment. However, patients are encouraged to keep both their GP and osteopath fully informed, so that their medical records are current and complete and the patient receives the best possible care from both healthcare practitioners. GPs can refer patients to osteopaths where they believe this intervention would be beneficial. Referral guidelines are provided by the General Medical Council
  • Can I see an osteopath through the NHS?
    Most osteopaths work in the private sector, either alone or in a group practice, and some offer services through the NHS. In some areas, doctors are able to refer patients to an osteopath for treatment funded by the NHS; this is determined by your local clinical commissioning group (who decide how money is spent at a local level). Within Cambridgeshire osteopathy is currently not available as an NHS funded service; to find out if NHS treatment is available in other areas, speak to your GP and/or contact your local clinical commissioning group.
  • Can I claim on my private medical insurance?
    Many private health insurance policies provide cover for osteopathic treatment. It may be possible to claim for a course of treatment but you should check in advance with your insurance company before seeking osteopathic treatment, in order to confirm the available level of cover and whether you will need to have a referral from your GP or a specialist. Many insurance companies such as ‘simply health’ provide an annual limit for self-referred treatment by complimentary healthcare practitioners, such as osteopaths, in which case receipt of payments in order to claim back costs will be provided by your osteopath.
  • What is Osteopathy?
    Osteopathy is a primary care profession, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders, and the effects of these conditions on patients' general health. Using many of the diagnostic procedures applied in conventional medical assessment, osteopaths seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopaths' patient-centred approach to health and well-being means they consider symptoms in the context of the patient's full medical history, as well as their lifestyle and personal circumstances. This holistic approach ensures that all treatment is tailored to the individual patient.
  • What do osteopaths treat?
    Osteopathy focuses on the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal and other related disorders and is complementary to orthodox medical management. Commonly treated conditions include back and neck pain, postural problems, sporting injuries, restricted mobility and occupational ill-health.
  • What training do osteopaths have?
    Undergraduate training is a minimum of four years, combining academic and clinical work. Qualification generally takes the form of a bachelors or integrated masters degree in osteopathy – BSc(Hons), BOst, MOst. Many osteopaths continue their studies after graduating. Osteopaths are required to update their training throughout their working lives - they must complete at least 30 hours of Continuing Professional Development per year.
  • Are Osteopaths insured?
    Yes, by law Osteopaths must be insured to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council.
  • What can I expect on my first visit to an Osteopath?
    At the first consultation, the osteopath will compile a full case history of your symptoms, as well as asking for information about your lifestyle, occupation, medical history and general health. The osteopath may also observe you making some simple movements to help them make a diagnosis. You may be asked to remove some clothing near the area of the body to be examined. Osteopathy is a 'package' of care that includes skilled mobilising and manipulative techniques, reinforced by guidance on diet, lifestyle and exercise and education on your symptoms. The osteopath will discuss the most appropriate treatment plan with you, estimating the likely number of sessions needed to treat your condition effectively. If the osteopath thinks that your condition is unlikely to respond to osteopathic treatment, you will be advised about how to seek further care. Osteopaths are skilled in diagnostic techniques and trained to identify when a patient needs to be referred to a GP.
  • Will my back be ‘clicked’?
    Joint manipulation is just one technique osteopaths may use as part of your treatment, this can produce a ‘popping’ or ‘clicking’ sound and is usually painless. Your Osteopath will discuss with you what techniques they intend to use and ensure you are happy with these throughout; if there is a certain type of technique you do not wish to have done this is never an issue, there are plenty of other ways we can manage your symptoms. Joint manipulation is not suitable for everyone, and some people don’t like it - it is important you feel comfortable with treatment.
  • Is Osteopathic treatment painful?
    Treatment is not usually painful, however you may experience some discomfort, particularly if you are already in pain. It is quite common to feel slightly sore for up to 48 hours following treatment. This is normal and healthy, and similar to what you might feel after exercise.
  • How many treatments will I need?
    Everyone’s symptoms and circumstances are different and everyone responds differently to treatment; this is therefore a difficult question to give one single answer to - it depends on the individual patient. The majority of patients usually need between 3-6 treatments. Your osteopath should be able to anticipate your course of treatment, and give you a realistic idea on recovery time. Occasionally, with long term problems or because patients may find it useful, regular treatment over a long term basis, for example once every 4-12 weeks may be suitable.
  • What are the risks of having Osteopathic treatment?
    Osteopathic treatment carries very few risks. Minor adverse reactions are not uncommon and include short term increase in pain and/or symptoms and minor headaches or fatigue. Severe adverse reactions are very rare, however, have been reported and may include fracture or damage to some blood vessels or nerves. Osteopaths medically screen all of their patients with thorough case history taking and examination in order to assess the patient’s suitability for having osteopathic treatment. Techniques will be adapted as appropriate in order to keep treatment safe and if the patient is not suitable for treatment at all we will discuss other treatment options and/or refer you to the appropriate medical professional. Most Recent research has demonstrated that whilst minor adverse reactions are common, severe reactions are very rare and are reduced by thorough clinical history and examination. Risk of some adverse events from osteopathic treatment is lower than that of over the counter anti-inflammatories.
  • Can I have treatment if I am pregnant?
    Expectant mothers often seek osteopathic treatment due to the many postural changes that occur during pregnancy and to date no research has demonstrated any danger of treating pregnant women. It is of course important that you inform us if you are pregnant, irrespective of your stage of pregnancy.
  • What’s the difference between Osteopathy, Physiotherapy and Chiropractic?"
    Osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists are similar in that they are all regulated health professions, require degree level and continued post-graduate training and all work with the musculoskeletal system with the same aim - to get you feeling and functioning better! They all have slightly different origins, schools of thought and approaches to health, disease and treatment, however, will all use varying combinations of manual therapy, exercise, education and lifestyle advice. The most important factor is that your practitioner is using an approach that is right for YOU, irrespective of the discipline they practice. When seeking treatment, discuss your symptoms and concerns with the practitioner, and be sure that their skills and treatment style will suit you - if you have any questions or would like to know more ask your practitioner.

The General Osteopathic Council:

The Institute of Osteopathy:

The National Council for Osteopathic Research:

The University College of Osteopathy (formally The British School of Osteopathy):

NHS - Osteopathy:
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