Cumbria Osteopathy

Cumbria Osteopathy

Niki Matthews BSc Ost (Hons), BMAS, BHSAI Cert Ed Accredited Coach

Human Osteopathy – What is it?

Osteopathy Specialises in restoring the structural alignment of postural changes. These can be caused by or maintained by injury. Postural changes, however small, can often be a contributing factor in reoccurring pain and reduced flexibility.

Osteopathy can alleviate a wide range of disorders including back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain, headaches, arthritic pain and much more. It is a drug-free, non-invasive manual therapy that aims to improve health across all body systems by manipulating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework.

The body is a dynamic structure and is dependent on the harmonious balance of the muscular skeletal system. When all the joints are correctly aligned and the muscles are working efficiently this good posture helps prevent injury and improves wellbeing.

Osteopaths are well versed in the application of spinal and joint manipulation in comparison to Physiotherapists. Osteopaths will look to treat the body as a whole whilst physiotherapists are generally area specific and target the tissues involved and are much more likely to include exercise as a part of treatment.

Differential diagnosis is a systematic process used to identify the proper diagnosis from a set of possible competing diagnoses

A diagnostic process involves identifying or determining the ethology of a disease or condition through evaluation of patient history, physical examination, and review of laboratory data or diagnostic imaging and the subsequent descriptive title of that finding.

Osteopathic differential diagnosis is different from clinical reasoning in other health professions.

Osteopaths use a two-phase approach: an initial biomedical screen for serious pathology, followed by use of osteopathic reasoning models that are based on the relationship between structure and function in the body.

Often an Osteopathic working diagnosis does not name a medical condition, but rather to guide the selection of treatment approaches.

This will include adjustments in posture exercise diet etc alongside the conventional medical approach.

This osteopathic approach gives a unique perspective to bring to multidisciplinary decision-making and potentially enhance the quality of care.


What happens on my first visit to an osteopath?

A first consultation with an osteopath is similar to that with any Registered Medical Practitioner. Osteopaths take a holistic approach to your health and well-being. Therefore, to start with we ask you to assist with our diagnosis of your complaint. The sort of questions we might ask will be about your complaint such as where, for how long, what makes it worse and better etc. We will also consider your medical history including previous surgery and illnesses, heart conditions and family history etc. It may seem that some of the questions seem unrelated to your complaint so ask your osteopath questions.


From the information we have found out from you, we will develop the correct solution to help you to a complete recovery.


At this stage your Osteopath may have some ideas about what has happened, but will need to examine you to confirm those ideas. The osteopath will then conduct a detailed examination of the affected area and then assess it in the context of the rest of your body. The Osteopath will examine by touch to pick up details of hot and swollen areas that could be a sign of inflammation, or cool dry areas that may mean a more chronic condition. In addition, the Osteopath will assess how freely your body moves; this may include leaning to one side and then the other to assess your spinal movements. The Osteopath may perform other tests like blood pressure, neurological assessment or checking the blood supply to the affected areas.


Once the examination is complete, your Osteopath will have developed a good idea about what has happened and will discuss this with you. The Osteopath will always have your best interests at heart, so do not be surprised if they recommend that the best treatment will be a visit to your GP or another healthcare professional. However, in the majority of cases, your Osteopath will be able to treat you.

How do I know if an Osteopath is fully qualified?

The Statutory Register of the General Osteopathic Council (GOstC) was opened in May 1988. The term ‘Osteopath’ was protected in law in May 2000 and can only be used by registered Osteopaths. To qualify, your Osteopath will have undergone a 4-5 year accredited course at an established Osteopathic institution. This training and qualification ensures that your Osteopath is safe and competent to practice. Patients now have the same safeguards as they have when visiting their GP or dentist.

How can Osteopaths help arthritis/rheumatism?

Osteopaths cannot cure arthritis and rheumatism, but they can help to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with these problems. An Osteopath will use several techniques to improve the function and reduce the pain and discomfort of the muscles, ligaments and joints. Osteopaths can also offer advice on how to help manage these problems using manual therapy. This focuses on improving the function of such joints by gentle stretching, mobilising and traction techniques.

How can Osteopathy help babies and children?

Many people believe that children and babies will not have any structural stresses or strains in their bodies, because they are so young. This is unfortunately often not the case. For example, at birth the baby is subjected to great forces, as the uterine contractions push the baby through the birth canal with it‘s varying degrees of natural resistance. At this time, the baby has to squeeze through the bony pelvis, this imposes twisting and turning motions on the young body. The baby’s head has an incredible ability to cope with these stresses during delivery. As delivery occurs, the soft bones overlap, bend and warp in order to reduce the size of the head. It is not unusual for babies to be born with odd shaped heads as a result of their birth.

Within the first few days after birth, the head usually loses the extreme moulded shape. However, sometimes this re-shaping is incomplete, especially if the birth has been difficult. This can mean the baby has to live with some unresolved and possibly uncomfortable stresses within its head and body. Osteopathy works gently within the cranial approach to aid the release of stresses and strains allowing the baby to be more relaxed and at ease.

Older children may suffer with the stresses and strains of everyday life. The demands of modern technology can take their toll on the developing musculoskeletal and nervous systems of children and teenagers. For example hours bent over a Nintendo DS or sat awkwardly in bed watching a laptop or exam revision. Osteopathy is a holistic therapy which can help with many things including generalised aches and pains, difficulty in relaxing, uncomplicated headaches and neck pain by freeing the body to express its optimum potential for health and growth. We work closely with GPs, midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding counsellors, regularly receiving direct referrals from these health professionals.

What is manipulation and why is it carried out?

Many people think that Osteopaths are manipulators. However, this may only be part of the treatment that an Osteopath gives to their patients. Manipulation techniques are beneficial and can help to free up spinal joints. Most people experience little or no pain but may hear an audible click. If an Osteopath believes that manipulation is appropriate for you, they will discuss this with you and explain possible adverse effects. An Osteopathic treatment does not by definition need to include a manipulation – other techniques are extremely beneficial – if you have any reservations please discuss these with your Osteopath.

Does manipulation put the joint back in place?

The idea of putting a joint back in place is incorrect. If spinal joints were out of place, this would be a serious injury that would require hospitalisation rather than treatment by an Osteopath. Your Osteopath can treat joints that have become restricted and limited in their normal function. Osteopaths do not put spinal discs back in. An Osteopath can treat the symptoms of a disc injury by helping the tissues return to a more normal healthy state.


‘Excellent treatment my back is better than it has been in a long time’


Previously I was in daily pain with limitation to walking long distances which effected daily life, now I am more aware of my posture, and have occasional episodes of pain, I feel I am on a slow road to recovery.


— Sarah Rodgers

What is the difference between Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists?

Osteopathy and Chiropractic have a similar root. In 1895 a Mr D.D Palmer was impressed by his treatment in the School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri and stayed to study Osteopathy. In 1896 he started his own school of Chiropractic because he disagreed with some of the theoretical principles about how Osteopathy worked.

The Osteopaths believed a disturbance in motion between parts of the body disturbed the blood supply to nerves and local tissue structures and this caused disease. Palmer believed that the misplacement of the spine lead to trapped nerves and that this was the root of all disease. These different theoretical roots have lead to the evolution of different approaches over time. The chiropractor uses very specific thrusts to move vertebrae. The Osteopath employs gentle manipulative techniques always accompanied by soft tissue work to render motion to an area, often working distantly to the problem area as well as locally to achieve a holistic approach. Chiropractors are professional colleagues who treat patients with similar problems to those seen by Osteopaths.


Physiotherapists and Osteopaths often have very complementary roles. Osteopaths concentrate on looking at patients from a holistic perspective. Physiotherapists tend to have a less philosophical, more medical approach. Physiotherapists use different methods of treating patients with musculoskeletal problems. Physiotherapists often use electronic equipment eg. ultrasound and short-wave diathermy. They rely more on teaching the patient remedial exercises to use between treatment sessions. Osteopaths may spend longer massaging muscles and are more likely to perform manipulation if needed.

Can I claim on my medical insurance?

Osteopathy is recognised by most major health insurers although an excess may apply. Please contact your insurance company to ensure you are covered. When booking an appointment please inform the receptionist of the name of the health insurance company.

Do I need to go to a G.P. before I go to an Osteopath?

No, your Osteopath is a primary care healthcare professional and as such is trained to recognise problems unsuitable for Osteopathic treatment and is able to communicate with others healthcare professionals should the need arise. Osteopaths are trained independent practitioners who can diagnose and treat problems of the musculoskeletal system.

If you are not sure if an Osteopath can treat you, please give us a call for an informal chat or check with your GP. You do not have to be referred by your GP. If an Osteopath is concerned about a patient’s medical history or if something concerns them while examining a patient they will refer patients back to their G.P. for further testing, X-rays and/or blood tests. An Osteopath will refer you to your GP if necessary to ensure that you receive the best healthcare possible. At these times, with your consent, a referral letter explaining your case will be sent to your GP.

How many treatments will I need?

This depends on the problem. Generally problems that have occurred recently will heal fairly quickly in one to three treatments. More chronic conditions will take longer to respond. Your Osteopath will discuss your individual situation with you at your initial appointment. Our aim is to get you back to full health as quickly as possible. Your recovery rate will depend upon factors such as your age, general health, sensitivity to treatment and activities in your life.

What does Osteopathic treatment involve?

Osteopaths work with their hands, and treatment may consist of soft tissue massage, gentle passive mobilisation techniques and specific joint manipulation. Very gentle cranial techniques may also be used and these may be applied to all areas of the body not just the head.

Do manipulations hurt?

Manipulation is not painful, but some discomfort can occasionally be felt as an injury is treated, even with gentle soft tissue techniques. Some of the techniques used can feel slightly odd and unusual but they should never hurt.  Osteopaths should be sensitive to your symptoms and not proceed with a technique if it causes too much discomfort.  You should not assume that you will always receive manipulation when you see an Osteopath; many successful treatments do not require it. Osteopaths usually keep their patients informed as to what they are doing as the treatment progresses.

Are there side effects with treatment?

Side effects are unusual; however, you may feel some tiredness or soreness for a few days afterwards, but this will quickly disappear. Osteopathy is a very safe and effective treatment that makes most patients feel much better.

Do I have to undress?

You may be asked to undress to your underwear so the Osteopath can view your spine, especially during your first visit. This helps the Osteopath to gather as much information as possible about your condition. If you have any concerns speak to your Osteopath and we will try to cater for your needs. Your privacy and modesty is respected at all times. You may bring along a friend or relative to act as your chaperone at any time.

What happens if I have a complaint?

You should inform your Osteopath about the nature of your complaint. We have never had a complaint at this practice and there are very few complaints against Osteopaths. Osteopaths are regulated by law and ‘The General Osteopathic Council’ (GOsC) holds a statutory register to oversee the conduct of all registered Osteopaths.

Is Osteopathy safe?

Yes, all Osteopaths are trained and qualified healthcare professionals. They undertake extensive training over four to five years and are regulated by law to ensure that they have the skills to care for you in a safe and gentle fashion. A treatment reaction may occur and can occur for a couple of days post treatment. If you experience any reaction, it is important you inform your Osteopath at the next appointment so they can adjust your management plan accordingly. Do not hesitate to ring the practice if you have any concerns whatsoever.

Who can Osteopaths treat?

Osteopathy is a treatment for everyone from babies a few days old to patients in their nineties. Osteopathic treatment is appropriate for a wide range of disorders including back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain, headaches, arthritic pain and digestive disorders.

I have ankylosing spondylitis. Since the initial consultation with Niki I have had regular treatments which I believe have helped me to improve my balance, loosen tight joints and strengthen muscles atrophied by lack of use in the difficult years.

Niki’s support and treatments have been very beneficial. Previously I was in daily pain with limitation to walking long distances which effected daily life, now I am more aware of my posture, and have occasional episodes of pain, I feel I am on a slow road to recovery.


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