Frequently Asked Questions
- what is osteopathy?
- is osteopathy regulated?
- what happens at a 'teaching clinic'?
- will I need to see my doctor first?
- what can I expect?
- I have a preference to see a male or female practitioner - is this possible?
- will I always see the same person?
- how many treatments will I need?
- what happens if I am not happy with my care in the clinic?
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a system of hands-on medicine used to treat dysfunctions of the human body. It uses a range of soft tissue techniques, articulation and manipulation to the body, in particular the musculo-skeletal system.
Is Osteopathy Regulated?
Osteopathy is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), which maintains a register of practitioners. Only practitioners on the register may practise as an osteopath, thereby maintaining standards and ensuring safety of the public. The GOsC validates osteopathic schools by granting 'Recognised Qualification' (RQ) status to schools who achieve the required standard. The College of Osteopaths has successfully achieved 'RQ' status, and clinic tutors at the teaching clinic are all registered osteopaths.
What happens at a 'teaching clinic'?
Student osteopaths are required to spend at least 1,200 hours attending the clinic during their osteopathic training. During the first two years, students will act as observers within the teaching clinic, and in the third they begin to take responsibility for managing some aspects of a patient's case such as taking your details or performing part of the examination or treatment. During the fourth and fifth year students take increasing responsibility for patient management but all students are supervised by fully qualified osteopathic clinic tutors. At any time during your appointment, a clinic tutor may enter the room to ask the student for an update or to review your case. The clinician will check the student's findings and will be able to answer questions. Other students may also be observing your appointment.
Will I need to see my doctor first?
This is not necessary. Several patients are referred to the College of Osteopaths teaching clinic from their GP or other health care professional. If there is anything that needs clarification such as results of any X-rays or scans, then with your permission we can contact them or refer you back to them. This is not usually necessary. The clinic tutor on duty will be able to advise on suitability of treatment.
What can I expect?
If you are new to osteopathy, you might not be sure of what to expect. Patients new to the clinic are booked for an appointment lasting up to 1½ hours. On arrival, you will be collected by a student and shown to a treatment room, where the student will take about twenty minutes to take a thorough case history. The student then has to leave the room to discuss the information gathered with the clinic tutor. This usually takes between five and ten minutes, after which the student will examine you. There are normally other students present, observing.
For any osteopathic examination, whether the problem is with your back, neck, foot or wrist, we like to look at how all of your body moves, so we can see if there are tensions or restrictions in joints or muscles that might be contributing to your symptoms. We therefore ask patients to undress to their underwear. The student will spend a few moments looking at you from the back, sides and front to see your general posture and ask you to do a few simple actions, such as bending forwards or raising your arms to see what movement you have and find out if there is any pain or other symptom produced. The student will then ask you to sit or lie on the treatment couch and they will carry out a physical examination, which involves palpation of the muscles and joints and putting movement through the spine, arms or legs, again gauging range of movement and tissue irritation and pain. Osteopathic examination is very gentle. If you are in acute pain, although we do need to gently test the affected area, we will cause as little discomfort as possible.
After your examination the students discuss their findings with a clinician to reach a final diagnosis. If it is something that can be treated, you will be given an explanation, the proposed course of action and an indication of the expected recovery period. Occasionally we may need to get X-ray results from your GP first before treatment but usually we can give some treatment in that first session.
At any time during the questioning, examination or treatment, the clinician may come into the room to ask the student for an update and to review your case. The clinician will check the student's findings and will be able to answer any questions for you as necessary. Other students may also be observing your case. Once you have been examined and a programme of treatment has been suggested, you will be booked in for further treatment as a continuing patient. Continuing patients are booked in for appointments lasting approximately forty minutes.
I have a preference to see a male or female practitioner - is this possible?
Should you wish to see a male or female student practitioner, please inform the receptionist when you make a booking to ensure your needs can be accommodated. Although we try to ensure your request will be met it may not always be possible.
Will I always see the same person?
It is policy to try to keep the same practitioner / patient partnership as far as possible. However as students (and clinicians) come in on a rota basis, they may not be available on a particular day. Your clinic records are kept carefully and if you do see another student practitioner, they will be able to read your case notes in order to ensure continuity of care.
How many treatments will I need?
This depends on a whole host of factors such as the nature of your problem, your lifestyle, your age and how long you have had your condition. The General Osteopathic Council suggests that the average number of visits is between three and six.
What happens if I am not happy with my care in the clinic?
We work very hard to ensure that our care is excellent but recognise that there may be occasions when a patient may need to bring something to our attention. There is no need to feel awkward or inhibited about this. If you have any worries you can speak to your student practitioner directly or the clinic tutor on duty, the receptionist or the Clinic Director. They will make a note of your concerns and ensure appropriate action is taken.