It may not be as well known as some other forms of healthcare, but osteopathy has an important role to play in helping people to manage their health and wellbeing. It is one of 14 Allied Health Professions recognised by the NHS in England and offers a flexible and rewarding career for those interested in supporting the health of others.
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So what do osteopaths do?
It is often said that osteopaths treat people, not problems. This is because they take a holistic approach to healthcare, looking beyond just the physical symptoms of a condition and using a range of approaches to promote the long-term health of patients.
Osteopaths consider the biological, psychological, and social factors that cause ill health and create a treatment plan tailored to an individual’s unique physiology and needs. This usually includes manual therapy, as well as advice around exercise, diet and lifestyle.
Osteopaths are highly trained professionals with particular expertise in the musculoskeletal system – the muscles, joints and their relationship with other systems of the body. Hands-on therapy by osteopaths helps to improve mobility, relieve tension, increase blood flow and optimise physical function. It includes manipulation of the joints, spine and connective tissues, as well as massage and stretching of muscles and ligaments.
Who do osteopaths treat?
People often visit osteopaths for back, neck, joint and muscle pain, for short-term issues such as sports injuries and for help with conditions such as migraines, headaches or digestive issues. But many patients visit osteopaths on a regular basis to help manage chronic conditions such as arthritis and to maintain their overall wellbeing. This is because osteopaths are highly people-focused, taking the time to understand every patient as an individual. Building long-lasting, health-improving relationships with patients is one of the pleasures of the profession.
"They take into consideration your lifestyle. I like the way they take time to find out about me to treat me and not just my pain." ~ osteopathy patient
Did you know?
- Osteopathy is a regulated health profession, just like nursing and general practice. In the UK osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) to legally work with patients.
- Osteopaths are highly skilled and complete several years of training, including a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours.
- Once qualified, osteopaths can take any number of career paths. While most choose to be self-employed, others work in the NHS, in professional sports, with animals or in research and academia. Find out more about osteopathy as a career.