What is Osteopathy?


Not just backs!

What is it?

Osteopathy is a type of manual therapy that treats the whole musculoskeletal system, namely – muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and fascia. Osteopaths look at the body from a holistic standpoint in that the cause of the issue may not be where the patient is presenting with pain and therefore an osteopath would treat multiple areas of the body.

Osteopaths mostly use techniques such as:
  • Joint manipulation and mobilisation
  • Neuromuscular soft tissue manipulation
  • soft and deep tissue massage
  • muscular energy stretching
  • Strain counter strain release
  • Balanced ligamentous technique
  • Cranial techniques

However, some osteopaths choose to use equipment such as; ultrasound, K-taping, acupuncture, laser therapy and massage guns. 

These techniques listed above aim to:
  • Increase the range of motion of joints
  • Improve muscular mobility/flexibility
  • Improve circulation and lymphatic drainage
  • Relieve muscular tension
  • Promote natural body healing
Other conditions commonly treated by osteopaths:
  • Arthritic changes and associated pain
  • Uncomplicated neck pain
  • Shoulder pain (e.g.frozen shoulder)
  • Elbow pain (tennis & golfers elbow)
  • Sports injuries
  • Cervicogenic headaches (headaches arising from neck problems)
  • Pregnancy related issues. 

…and many more! At MSC Osteopathy we also treat animal musculoskeletal injuries!

In the UK osteopathy is a protected title regulated by the General Osteopathic Council. As a result, osteopaths at MSC Osteopathy have undergone a full time four year masters degree and a one year post graduate degree in order to treat humans and animals.

In order to maintain their title and stay up-to-date with research and current techniques, osteopaths complete 30 hours of continued professional development each year.

Hot Vs Cold therapy?


What is heat therapy?

Hot and cold therapy are very common pieces of advice given by your therapist post consultation, however they both do very different things and therefore are given for different injuries!

It must be noted that hot and cold therapies should be used with caution!

Heat therapy is a technique that induces vasodilation which is the opening of the blood vessels which in turn brings more blood to the tissues targeted by the heat. The increased blood brings with it more nutrients and oxygen which aids in tissue repair, as well as relaxing tense tissues & relieving pain.

Heat is available in many forms, the most common being; hot water bottles, wheat bags, heat pads, hydrotherapy & hot baths/showers. Heat is usually advised to be left on for around 15 minutes however if it is found to be comforting you can leave it on for longer. 

We would recommend using heat as part of treatment for these injuries:
  • Muscle strains, spasms & tears
  • Joint stiffness
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Headaches due to muscular tension in the neck
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome 
  • Piriformis syndrome
What is cold therapy?

Cold therapy has the polar (excuse the pun) opposite effect. The cold induces vasoconstriction which is the narrowing of the blood vessels which in turn reduces the amount of blood in the targeted area. The reduced blood has the effect of reducing inflammation which aids in pain reduction & swelling reduction. 

Cold therapy is available in many forms too, as osteopaths at MSC Osteopathy we most commonly prescribe ice packs or frozen vegetables. It is key that cold compresses are covered in a towel before being placed on the skin – there must be a barrier between the skin and cold to prevent skin damage. Cold therapy is usually advised to be left on for 5 minutes then taken off for at least an hour before re-applying. 

We would recommend using cold as part of treatment for these injuries:
  • Tendonitis
  • Ligament sprains
  • Bursitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve irritation within the spine
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Facet irritation

Sometimes an injury benefits from a dual effect of hot and cold. We usually advise the cold to be applied first for 5 minutes, then immediately followed by the heat which can be left on as long as you feel comfortable (usually around the 15 minute mark). This is the best approach for an injury whereby there is inflammation as well as muscular tension. The most common injury we would prescribe this approach for is arthritis!

Canine elbow dysplasia 


What is it?

Elbow dysplasia is a common canine condition whereby the elbow joint grows abnormally during developmental stages (as a puppy). There are multiple types of elbow abnormality that can be present (the main ones are):

  • Medial compartment disease = wear and tear of the cartilage lining the joint
  • Fragmented medial coronoid process (FCP) = fracture of the joint
  • Ununited anconeal process (UCP) = Joint has not properly fused together 
  • Osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) = Cartilage within the joint becomes loose or completely moves away from the joint surface 
How is it diagnosed?

Elbow dysplasia is an inherited condition and therefore is usually screened in dogs from a known genetic line or dogs that owners are thinking of breeding from. 

If you would like your dog to be screened you should take the dog to your veterinarian who will perform an x-ray on the elbow with the dog under sedation, the results will then be sent to the BVA (british veterinary association) and/or the Kennel Club elbow dysplasia scheme for grading. Your vet will then convey the results to you. 

The degree of dysplasia graded 0-3 (o being the best outcome, 3 being the most severe). If your dog has a different score for each elbow then the higher of the two will be taken as the overall grading for your dog. 

What are the symptoms of elbow dysplasia?
  • Dogs will start to show signs at roughly 5-18 months old
  • More common in larger breeds
  • Front limb limping – usually exacerbated by extreme exercise
  • Stiffness first thing in the morning
  • Behavioural changes – less excited to play or go for walks
  • In extreme cases you may notice the elbow is swollen and hot 

If you do notice any of these symptoms then we would advise you call your veterinarian. 

How is it treated?
  • Canine elbow dysplasia is most commonly treated with anti-inflammatory medications, which your veterinarian will prescribe. 
  • Weight control is always helpful for reducing the stress placed on the elbow joint. Regular short walks are ideal for dogs diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. 
  • Periods of rest are crucial if your dog is showing signs of being in pain. 
  • In extreme cases your veterinarian may decide to operate on the joint. 
  • Conservative treatment (such as osteopathy)
How can osteopathy help my dog’s elbow dysplasia?
  • Mobilise stiff joints to increase range of motion
  • Manipulate any areas of restriction within joints
  • Soft tissue to help reduce associated muscular tension and compensations 
  • Ultrasound on the elbow joint to help reduce inflammation 
  • TENS for pain relief, EMS to strengthen muscles 
  • Tailored exercises for you to do with your dog to stretch and strengthen muscles 
  • Advice (lifestyle, hydrotherapy, joint supports)

Elbow dysplasia is an ongoing condition that stays with the dog and usually leads to elbow arthritis. Therefore ongoing maintenance treatment is the best approach, we usually recommend a session once every 3 months. 

2020 – The year of poor posture!


Since March 2020 a big increase in the population has started working from home which yes may have its benefits on your lifestyle, however, it has been a bad year for the population’s posture! A newly coined term ‘text neck’ has been thrown around hugely and as osteopaths we have seen a massive increase in the number of patients coming in with upper back and neck pain. 

A lot of people do not have the correct desk set up at home to be working for any length of time without moving around. The picture below shows you the ideal desk set up for your posture:

Without the correct set up the muscles in your neck and back become over strained and the joints in your spine, shoulders, elbows & wrists can become irritated.

This can lead to a few issues…
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome 
    • Tightening of some of the muscles in your neck and chest which cause compression of the nerves, veins & arteries of the neck. These nerves innervate the arm therefore if they are compressed you often experience tingling/numbness/weakness in certain areas. 
  • Facet joint irritation 
    • Often computer screens are not at eye level which causes you to either extend or flex your head. These movements cause the joint space to reduce and the bones within the joint can ‘catch’ each other leading to inflammation around the joint and the capsule. This injury can also irritate the surrounding nerves and again cause tingling/numbness/weakness in the shoulder and arms. 
  • Muscle strain & spasm 
    • If the muscle is held in a position of over contraction or over stretching for too long then you may strain the muscle or potentially cause a spasm. Muscle spasms are very painful but on a positive note can be treated quickly!
  • Headaches
    • If the muscles in the top of your neck are strained then they can lead to cervicogenic headaches which are headaches felt in the back of the head. 
  • Shoulder tendonitis 
    • Slumping forward at your desk causes one of the bones in the shoulder joint to round forward which closes the joint space and irritates the tendon that runs through the joint space. This is a progressive condition and leads to overhead movements becoming particularly painful as well as weakness in the arms. 
  • Elbow bursitis
    • If you lean on your elbows a lot this can irritate and inflame the bursae (fluid filled sac) that lines the outside of the ulna (one of the bones in the elbow joint). This causes redness, swelling and pain on the point of the elbow. 
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • As mentioned above slumping forward alters the position of your shoulders, however it will also change the position you hold for wrists in. This can compress the main nerve in the hand and lead to tingling, numbness and weakness in the hands.

…..to name a few!

Osteopaths are highly trained in detecting and diagnosing these conditions. Treatment will include;
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint mobilisation & manipulation
  • Fascial unwinding
  • Ultrasound
  • Taping 
  • Prescribing tailored exercises to get rid of the injury and prevent it from coming back! 

Don’t let your desk set up be a pain in the neck!

The Equine Thoracic Sling


…AKA – The shoulder girdle!

You may not know that horses do not actually have a collar bone. This means their shoulders are attached to their rib cage and thoracic spine via muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia! This group of structures is what we refer to as the thoracic sling. 

The main muscular components of the thoracic sling are:

  • Serratus Ventralis Thoracis
  • Ascending Pectoral 
  • Descending Pectoral 
  • Transverse Pectoral 
  • Subclavius 

What does it do?

The primary function of the thoracic sling is to LIFT THE WITHERS, this enables the horse to bring its hind legs underneath and allows for TRUE COLLECTION. 

With no collar bone horses have a huge range of motion in their shoulders and when the muscles are engaged the horse can bring its front legs up and JUMP. 

The thoracic sling also acts as a SHOCK ABSORBER for the shoulders, preventing injury to the joints and bones. 

Symptoms your horse may be suffering with a problem in its thoracic sling:
  • Horse will feel or look heavy on the forehand
  • Horse may be sensitive to having its girth done up 
  • Reluctance to pick front feet up or stretch forward (particularly noticeable with the farrier)
  • Shortened stride OR reluctance to lengthen stride
  • Not willing / happy to canter on a certain lead or may be performing constant flying changes
  • In extreme cases, the horse may not be willing to move forward or may even object to being ridden altogether 

How can osteopathy help?

If your horse is suffering with any of the above symptoms or the muscles just feel tight when you palpate / touch them, then get in touch to book an appointment! 

Treatment includes

Soft tissue massage to relieve muscular tension

Taping to improve blood supply and lymphatic drainage as well as acting as a support for muscles and joints

Joint mobilisation and manipulation to keep the shoulders, neck, back and ribs moving freely together 

Percussion therapy to release deep muscular tension 

Ultrasound to reduce any areas of inflammation or sensitivity 

We will prescribe a tailored exercise programme with in-hand stretches and ridden exercises 

We will provide lifestyle advice to help with day to day activities that may be causing increased tension and stress on the thoracic sling

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