Your first appointment
This will take up to an hour, to allow time to explore:
- Your current problem.
- Your history of similar or other complaints.
- Your medical history.
We take a full medical history in case anything in there helps to explain the current problem, to ensure that anything we do is safe, and to screen for the very rare cases that may require referral for help elsewhere. We also do it to understand you as fully as possible, in order to tailor our treatment and advice to suit you.
We take time to examine you fully. We generally do this with you undressed to your underwear, so it’s a good idea to ensure you’re wearing something you’re comfortable being seen in. Usually gym tops and shorts are fine if you’re not comfortable in your underwear, but please say if you feel uncomfortable undressing. There are other options, and we can also offer a towel to cover you wherever possible.
- Observation – looking at your posture to see if there are factors that might contribute to your current problem.
- Palpation – using a highly developed sense of touch to explore the health of muscles, joints, ligaments and other structures.
- Active movements – getting you to do some simple movements to observe how your body is functioning.
- Passive movements – seeing how your joints move when we move them, so without you bearing weight or your muscles being active.
- We may carry out further examinations to determine if there are medical considerations that might require appropriate referral to someone else, such as your GP or another doctor, or sometimes just to monitor your general health and how it might affect your treatment and management of your problem. Most often this is not necessary.
Once you have been examined, we’ll discuss with you what we think the problem is, and what we think we can do about it. It’s important that you feel happy about this, so if it’s not clear to you, please do ask for clarification. We’ll discuss your expectations from treatment, and how this matches what we think we can do. We’ll also discuss treatment approaches, including risks as well as benefits of treatment, and offer you alternatives as required. You’re free to say no or stop the treatment at any point, or ask for more explanation. We’ll be happy to oblige. We’ll ask your permission for any treatment, and it’s important for you to understand what we’re doing and why, and feel happy with it before giving your permission. We may also give self-help tips and advice on exercise to assist your recovery, and to prevent recurrence or worsening of your problem.
Referral from a GP is not necessary, most people ‘self-refer’ to an osteopath. We may sometimes ask your permission to contact your GP if this is appropriate, and you may want to keep your GP informed of your treatment. We would like to be working with your GP where appropriate to ensure the best care for you.
Every osteopath working in the UK must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council and must follow their Osteopathic Practice Standards.
Concerns and complaints about osteopaths
If you are a patient and are worried about the treatment you have received, or the way your osteopath has behaved, the best person to talk to first is usually the person who treated you. Many patients’ worries arise from misunderstandings and it is often helpful to discuss your concerns with your osteopath first.
If you would prefer not to do this, you may be able to discuss it with another osteopath in the practice. Ask about the practice’s complaints procedure: all osteopathic practices should have one. If there is no one else in the practice, another osteopath may be able to give an opinion. Most will be pleased to help you. A good point of contact is the British Osteopathic Association, who will be happy to discuss your concerns.
If you wish to undertake formal proceedings, you can do so via the profession’s regulator, the General Osteopathic Council. Guidance can be accessed here.