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What is an Osteopath?

An osteopath has similarities to a physiotherapist or a chiropractor, and all work with the musculoskeletal system, but there are significant differences too.

Back Pain

The title "osteopath" is protected by law. In order for someone to call themselves one, they must:

  • complete a recognised qualification

  • register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC)

  • maintain their professional insurance

  • complete at least 30 hours of professional development every year

You can check if someone truly is an osteopath in the UK by checking on the GOsC website.

How does an Osteopath Work?

Osteopathy is a drug-free, hands-on therapy. We are also primary healthcare practitioners, which means you can come to us without a referral. Your osteopath is qualified to diagnose and treat conditions relating to muscle, bone, and nerves.

We use a combination of your case history, observation, and examination to determine the cause of your symptoms. From here, we can work out an appropriate treatment plan. Osteopaths are holistic- we consider the body as a whole. This applies to the physical side: hand pain may be caused by a problem in the neck, which may have been caused in turn by restriction elsewhere. But it also applies to psychology: your pain will be worse if you have negative beliefs about it- for example if you have been told that your bones are crumbling or that your back problem will paralyse you. We are mindful that language is important, and pain is highly dependent on it.

An osteopath in the UK is required to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council which maintains a published list of all osteopaths in Eastbourne and throughout the UK.

What to Expect from your First Appointment with an Eastbourne Osteopath

Your first session at Eastbourne Osteopathy may be longer than follow up appointments so that we have enough time to go through your case fully. The case history is extensive, including questions on general health and family history to help rule conditions in or out. Your appointment is confidential, as it would be with your GP.

After the case history, we will move onto physical examination. Be prepared to dress down- bring shorts and a sports bra or vest if this is more comfortable than dressing down to your underwear. We can work around whatever is most comfortable for you, but working through thick or restrictive clothes may make treatment less effective. Bear in mind that it might be appropriate to ask you to dress down another area than where your pain is, as some symptoms are caused by problems elsewhere. Your osteopath will ask you to perform some movements, and they might reproduce them while you are laying down to see if there is any difference. They may also do some specific testing which may be uncomfortable in order to finalise a diagnosis.

Treatment itself is hands on manual therapy. Massage and stretching techniques can help with muscular issues. Repetitive joint mobilisations or quicker manipulations ("clicking") aim to get joints moving better again. We understand that not everyone is comfortable with every technique, so we will explain everything as we go. You are free to decline anything at any time. We have a range of techniques available, so we can almost always find another way around a problem.

You can expect to leave with a diagnosis, prognosis, and some advice for managing your symptoms between sessions.

Who can we help?

We treat people of all ages and from all walks of life. We can help with musculoskeletal problems in babies and during pregnancy as well as sports injuries and general aches and pains, with the aim of reducing pain and restoring good health.

You may also like to see an osteopath for general maintenance and prevention. This often suits people with osteoarthritis who have found a comfortable level that they would like to maintain. It can also be ideal for people with recurrent back or neck issues with the aim of reducing the frequency or intensity of their flare ups.

History of Osteopathy

The story of osteopathy in the UK begins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although osteopathy originated in the United States with Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the 1870s, its principles and practices soon found their way across the Atlantic, gaining attention and interest in the UK.

Early Adopters and Pioneers

The late 19th century and early 20th century witnessed a few British physicians and therapists travelling to the U.S. to study osteopathy at its source. One of the key figures in introducing osteopathy to the UK was John Martin Littlejohn. A former student of Dr. Still, Littlejohn established the British School of Osteopathy (BSO) in London in 1917, which was the first osteopathic school in Europe. The BSO played a fundamental role in shaping the professional landscape of osteopathy in the country, setting standards for training and practice.

Challenges and Recognition

The journey of osteopathy in the UK wasn't without its challenges. For many years, osteopaths operated in a grey area of the medical field. The mainstream medical community often viewed them with skepticism. However, osteopaths continued to champion their holistic and drug-free approach to health, gradually earning respect and credibility.

It wasn't until the Osteopaths Act of 1993 that the profession received statutory recognition. This act led to the establishment of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) in 1997, which then took on the role of regulating the practice of osteopathy in the UK. The GOsC set the standards for training, practice, and conduct, ensuring the protection of the public and the credibility of the profession.

Modern Osteopathy and Continued Growth

Over the years, osteopathy has gained significant traction in the UK. The profession has seen a steady rise in the number of practitioners and schools dedicated to osteopathic education. Modern osteopaths in the UK benefit from both the rich tradition rooted in the early teachings of Dr. Still and Littlejohn and the advancements in contemporary medical knowledge.

The integration of osteopathy into the broader healthcare system has also grown. Nowadays, it's not uncommon for osteopaths to work alongside general practitioners, physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals in multi-disciplinary settings.

From its tentative beginnings in the early 20th century to its recognized and respected position in the modern healthcare landscape, osteopathy's journey in the UK mirrors its holistic approach – adapting, evolving, and looking at the bigger picture.


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