Osteopathy

Are you suffering from neck, back or limb pain? Or perhaps you’re finding that you are becoming stiffer as you get older. Whether you have been in pain for just a few days or for many months, osteopathy may offer a solution. Your symptoms may be due to an accident, a work-related strain or a sports injury, or they may be related to disease or old age. Whatever the case may be, osteopathic treatment can successfully alleviate your symptoms and aid in your recovery, helping you onto the road to better health.

Osteopathy is one of the key therapies at Bedford Integrative Health Centre. Osteopath Sorrel Pindar works with other members of the team to provide a rounded, “joined-up” approach to health care. Osteopathy is often associated with treatment for back problems, but in fact it can be used to treat any part of the body from the head to the toes. Sorrel treats everything from headaches to foot pain, and while back pain makes up the majority of her work, she specialises in the treatment of chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome.

An osteopathic consultation includes an assessment of the mechanics of the whole body, not just the part that hurts. The information gained from this assessment is combined with information about your lifestyle, diet, and the stresses you may be under at home and at work, to arrive at a treatment plan which will include hands-on treatment, stretches and exercises, and if appropriate strategies for managing stress, which is so often manifested as back or shoulder pain.

It is now possible to book an osteopathy appointment online, using the “Book Now” button above. A discount of £5 is available for all new patients using the “Book Now” button to book their first appointment. On the other hand, if you would like to find out whether osteopathy is right for you, you can book a 10 minute telephone consultation: just click on the “Book Now” button on the clinic home page and select “Telephone Consultation” from the list of appointment types.

What Is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a safe and natural therapy that focuses on the framework of the body consisting of the bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues or fascia. The osteopath assesses the condition of this musculo-skeletal system looking for areas of imbalance, weakness and strain. Such imbalances affect how the body functions and they influence the health of the whole body, not just the musculo-skeletal system.

Photo credit: General Osteopathic Council
Photo credit: General Osteopathic Council

Once the osteopath has made her assessment she uses manual methods of treatment to correct the imbalances and restore the tissues to health. The aim of treatment is to get the patient out of pain as soon as possible, and to improve the mobility of joints and the flexibility of the muscles so that the body can function more efficiently and effectively.

Many people believe that osteopaths only treat back pain, but in fact osteopathy is a treatment approach for the whole body, and can help to restore health and well-being in the whole person. By working on the muscles, joints and ligaments, osteopathic treatment may release years of accumulated stresses and strains which have been affecting posture and mobility. Osteopathy does not cure the patient, it simply removes barriers to good health and allows the body to heal itself.

I first went to see Sorrel in August as I was stooping badly when I walked, and I was also having pain in my back. It is now December and Sorrel has worked wonders. I am no longer in pain and my posture has improved greatly.

Iris Haynes, 83

Osteopathy offers safe and effective treatment for a great number of our health problems. As osteopaths we work with our hands on the body to relieve strains and re-balance the structure of the body. This helps to improve the circulation and the overall functioning of the body. I also practise cranial osteopathy, working with fine movements of the bones of the skull and the membranes and fluids which surround the brain and spinal cord. This leads naturally to an increase in vitality, releasing the body’s own healing processes. It is also very safe, with minimal risk of serious complications from treatment.

Osteopathy is so effective at resolving aches, pains and injuries, because it looks for the causes of the problem. It is the osteopath’s aim to stop a problem or injury from recurring by removing the imbalances that allowed it to occur in the first place.

Osteopaths do not look at a problem by dividing the body into systems and focusing only on one part of it. Instead we are generalists, seeing the person as a whole: mind, body and spirit. (If you wonder what “spirit” might mean, think about the following question: does having a reason to be alive affect how well you are?) Sorrel’s approach is “ultra-holistic” in that she not only looks at the patient’s body as a whole, but she also takes account of the patient’s social milieu, including home and work life. This is in fact the way modern medicine is going and is known as the biopsychosocial approach. Illness and pain are all to some extent affected by stress and so stress reduction and stress management form an essential part of the recovery process.

How is Osteopathy Different?

Osteopathy takes a different approach to health care from that of conventional medicine. Osteopathy works by enabling the body to heal itself. By reducing tensions and restrictions in the joints, muscles and ligaments (musculoskeletal system), osteopathy brings about changes in the way the body functions.

Osteopathy was first developed in the 19th century by an American doctor, Andrew Taylor Still. Still recognised that the health of the body is dependent on the correct functioning of the muscles, joints and ligaments, which in turn affect the health of nerves and blood vessels. Osteopaths have always worked with their hands, both in assessing their patients and in treating them. Modern osteopaths are trained in medical science as well as in osteopathic technique, and base their treatment on a full diagnosis of the cause of the patient’s symptoms.

In assessing a patient’s condition, the osteopath looks at the patient primarily from a biomechanical standpoint, using her knowledge of anatomy and physiology. However osteopathy is very much a holistic approach to healthcare and therefore attention may be paid to the patient’s lifestyle including exercise, diet and stress levels. This assessment forms the basis for treatment, which is tailored to the needs of each individual patient.

Photo credit: General Osteopathic Council
Photo credit: General Osteopathic Council

Osteopathic Philosophy

There are five basic premises underlying the philosophy and practice of osteopathy. These are:

  1. First, the human body is an integrated unit, and that the person represents a combination of body, mind, and spirit.
  2. Second, the body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
  3. That the structure and function of the body are reciprocally and mutually interdependent.
  4. That optimum function of body systems is dependent upon the unimpeded flow of blood and nerve impulses.
  5. That the musculo-skeletal system comprises a major system of the body, and that its importance goes far beyond that of providing a supportive framework.

These principles lead to the osteopathic understanding of disease processes and the role of osteopathy in healing:

  1. The recognition of the importance of the musculo-skeletal system and its tendency to dysfunction, which leads to changes to the rest of the body, and the repercussions of such changes. The enormous amount of energy required to deal with disturbances to the structure and functioning of the musculo-skeletal system is often an important contributor to internal dysfunction.
  2. The recognition that treatment should be based on an understanding of the unity of the body and its capacity for self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function. Therapy is able to normalise dysfunction of the musculo-skeletal system and of internal systems, such as the gastrointestinal tract, using a variety of manipulative procedures.