Your first visit to the osteopath

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Don't worry… you're in safe hands

As with most effective medicine, a good well considered diagnosis is the key. The first visit or ‘Consultation’ usually takes about 45 minutes as opposed to following sessions which are normally about 30 minutes. The Osteopath will take a thorough and detailed case history from you discussing your current complaint and importantly details of your past medical history. They will also be interested in your general lifestyle and habits such as sports or hobbies as this can often have a bearing on the matter. Reports from previous investigations such as X rays, MRI Scans or blood test results can also be incredibly useful in painting a more detailed picture of your complaint.

After the case history has been taken, the practitioner will explain their thoughts regarding the nature of your complaint and discuss with you the examination they need to carry out. Prior to the examination you may be asked to disrobe down to your underwear. However if you feel very uncomfortable with this request other loose fitting clothes may be accommodated. Due to the very nature of treatment tight trousers and tops can hinder the efficacy of some of the techniques. The osteopath will do their best to respect your modesty. Quite often patients bring along a friend or relative on their first visit for support or to act as a chaperone. This is much encouraged.

Initially posture and gait will be assessed

The examination then requires the patient to go through a series of movements, the success of which tells the osteopath which areas of the spine or pelvis may be in dysfunction. More peripheral problems such as hands and feet will be tested more specifically to get an idea of exactly which joint or even tissue is being affected (i.e. tendon, muscle, ligament etc.)

If your case history is more complicated and there are associated symptoms such as pins and needles or referred pain say into the arm or leg then the osteopath will perform a neurological assessment. This will include testing your muscle strength, checking for areas of numbness and taking your reflexes. In other cases the practitioner may feel the need to check your heart and lungs and to take your blood pressure or palpate your abdomen. In an attempt to be holistic all regions and systems of the body are considered.

Following your consultation, your osteopath will be able to explain their working diagnosis. We find that pictures, models and diagrams are often effective in helping patients to understand. The Osteopath will also give you an indication of how many treatments you are likely to need to alleviate the problem and a rough outline of the intended management plan.

If there are any concerning findings indicating a possible underlying pathology then the Osteopath will request that you return to your GP for further investigations and a letter of referral may be written. In such instances a patient consent form must be signed by you giving authorisation for liaison with another health professional.

If your practitioner feels that osteopathy is not appropriate then they may refer to you to another therapist who may provide a more relevant treatment approach.

Contrary to what people think, Osteopaths are authorised to sign off work certificates and refer patients for private investigations such as MRI Scanning, Diagnostic Ultra sound and X rays.