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Low Back Pain and Osteopathy Treatment

First a little bit about Osteopaths and Osteopathy. The profession is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC: https://www.osteopathy.org.uk/home/) and the title Osteopath and osteopathy are protected under law so no one who is not registered with GOsC can call themselves an osteopath, even if they have done all or part of the training.


The training lasts 4 years and takes the Osteopath to a master’s level degree. The final two years of training involve work in the college clinic and the osteopath must complete 1000 hours of clinical participation as well as see a specific number of new patients as part of the qualification process. This is because they are able, though most do not, to become sole practitioners running their own clinics from Day 1. Osteopaths are also now recognised as Allied Health Professionals

(AHP : https://www.england.nhs.uk/ahp/about/).


It is widely known that Osteopathy can help people with back pain, some may not know how, and the aim of this article is to explain the general process of low back pain treatment and management.


The body is a very good self-healing system but occasionally that system needs a bit of a helping hand. Osteopaths specialise in the knowledge and management of the physical body and approach treatment with various manual techniques that include massage, and various mobilisation and manipulative techniques. Some are gentle some are more forceful, but all are used to help to restore normal function and stability of joints to help the body to heal itself. The techniques are chosen based on the individual patient and the symptoms that have been reported.


Anyone can get back pain, low back or elsewhere. In fact, it is considered as part of the human condition, much the same way as the common cold is. It can manifest at any time, in pregnancy, while walking, sitting, standing at night, in the morning. It tends to be alleviated by somethings, movement, heat, cold but rarely by painkillers.


When the patient arrives at the osteopathy clinic, they will go through a thorough consultation process to establish both the reasons for attending as well as some background information into past medical history. Based on this the osteopath with perform a clinical examination and establish a working diagnosis and treatment is then given.

Treatment is, as mentioned above the use of various manual techniques, massage, mobilisations and sometimes manipulations. All of these should be explained to the patient so that they are clear about what to expect and what sort of reaction they might have after treatment. As well as the work done in the treatment room, patients will also usually be given a bit of homework. To maintain the benefits of the treatment the osteopath will suggest exercises, be they strength or stretching, to manage the back pain between treatments. These will no be hard but will aim to keep the patient moving and loose so that the body can begin to heal itself.


The back pain can be anywhere. The back is the area from the top of the neck to the top of the legs, thus including the bottom area and pain can occur in the top, middle or lower back. The descriptions are usually sharp, severe or stabbing though longer term back pain can be described as dull, achy and even burning. Other complaints include constipation, shooting pain, headache, and sciatica. The aim of the consultation and the examination is to establish if the patient is safe to treat and if osteopathy is the right treatment for that complaint. If not, the osteopath will refer the patient back to the GP either for investigation or for referral elsewhere.

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