What is Osteopathy?


Not just backs!

Osteopathy is a type of manual therapy that treats the whole musculoskeletal system, namely – muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and fascia. It looks 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
Osteopathy is commonly linked to the treatment of lower back pain and whilst osteopathy is seen to be very effective for this, osteopathy can also be used to treat:
  • 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 regulated by the General Osteopathic Council and therefore is a protected title. Osteopaths at MSC Osteopathy have undergone a full time four year masters degree in order to treat humans and then a one year postgraduate certificate to treat animals too.

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?


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

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!

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