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  • Writer's picturePaula Wilson-Young

Osteo what ? What is an Osteopath and How I can help you

Hello there, thank you for taking the time to read my first EVER blog. I am Michelle, and I am an Osteopath……A What? Then this is the blog for you, do read on.

Most of you reading this may have a vague idea of what I do, for those of you who don't I will give you a better understanding as to what an Osteopath is, how I can help get you better, what I do to achieve this and hopefully answer any questions that make it clearer and easier for you to decide if Osteopathy is right for you, I may also add in a dodgy joke or two along the way...../i have Lots to tell you so let’s get started.

The most common questions I am asked are ‘’What is an Osteopath?’’ and ‘’Do you just fix backs?’’ The short answer is yes, I help with back pain, but Osteopathy is so much more than backs.

Let me tell you all about Osteopathy

Osteopathy was founded many moons ago (1874 to be exact) by Andrew Taylor Still a fascinating physician and surgeon who discovered that to be able to achieve the highest form of health all of the parts of the body have to work together in harmony.

Osteopathy academically speaking is based on the principle that the structure (e.g., your bones) and the function (how they work/move etc.) are reciprocally related (work together)– the bones, muscles, organs, ligaments, tendons etc. all work as one.

If one of these areas are not working or performing properly because of things like an injury, illness or strain then the rest of the body will compensate and work differently to keep you moving.

That may sound very wordy I hear you cry!! An easier way of looking at it is – you have lower back pain, you sit at a desk all day and you are more than likely sitting there typing away and your upper back is arched over and you are craning your neck forward to look at the screen ( how can you see me at my desk ? - you may even be doing this whilst reading my blog)

Doing this repeatedly every day will put strain on your neck, shoulders and upper back which then leads to discomfort in your lower back,Sitting for long periods of time will also create tightness through your upper leg, and potentially restrict your breathing from being scrunched forward repeatedly day after day.

Your visit to an Osteopath

When you visit an Osteopath (ME !!) I will run through a variety of different questions asking about your lifestyle, your job, how you spend your free time, where you sit, what your bed is like, if you have a comfy sofa and similar. I am looking for patterns as to what has started the reason you are seeking my help. Once I have that information, I will then test the area that is causing you bother, tell you what is causing the pain/discomfort and then explain how we can work together to fix it.

This all combines to form my holistic diagnosis, which then allows me to treat you as the whole person you are

I will work not only only work on your lower back pain for example, I will begin to unwind the pattern that the repeated sitting down at your desk/slumping on your sofa/ carrying your baby etc. has created. I like the word de-spiralling( I may have invented this word), working to get the shoulders and upper back in a better position will take the strain off of your lower back, I will give you examples of how you can sit in a better position be that adjusting your chair or desk, where your keyboard sits, where you are sitting in relation to the ground , or how to hold your baby in a better position, sleeping with a pillow differently in bed, that kind of thing.

It may well be that just getting up and moving may help, we will work out a better set up so that you are not over straining your body in whatever it may be that you are doing to keep the pain where it is so that once the pain is taken care of won't come back as we have worked to stop the reason it happened – Making sense? I do hope so.....

So, I understand what an Osteopath is YAY!!, So how do can you get me better?

Osteopaths use many different techniques to get your body moving as it should be or as best as it can be, everyone is different, there is no perfect posture per sae, merely an optimum comfort and function level for your body.

Each treatment with myself is specific and personal to you (like Starbucks or another coffee of your choosing- I will make it to suit you!!), I will assess how your body has stopped moving well and then explain how I can get you moving better, it’s that simple. To do this I use a range of tools from my batman belt these are usually a mix of the following -

Articulation – Using your body, for example your knee, holding the knee and moving it in every direction the knee should move to, when I find an area that the knee can't move to/has become stuck I work slowly and gently to get the knee moving in that direction.

Muscle energy technique – Simply put, assisted stretching. I will use your muscles for this and again find the restriction – how far can it move without discomfort, ask you to gently resist me moving the knee again for example and then ask you to relax at this point I can then push the muscles around the knee that little bit further to get a better range of movement.

Soft tissue manipulation – Similar to massage, any areas that there is tension in the fibres (think of these like cheese strings – perfect example of the fibres) of the muscles, ligaments and tendons pressure is placed upon these until the area relaxes off enough to begin moving the joint that has become stuck.

Hvt – High velocity thrust – manipulation – These are the techniques that some find quite nerve racking – firstly please do not worry, the joint that has become stuck/restricted sometimes needs a little persuasion to move again, the technique is literally a small push in the right direction- it may sounds like a pop – again this is the body releasing tension if you like (almost like opening a bottle of fizzy juice) once the pop happens the body sends chemicals to release the joint, lubricate it again and almost give a factory reset response to the tissues and nerves around it telling them that it’s OK to relax again and not try to protect a joint that doesn't move.

I would add that if you are not comfortable with this that is absolutely fine, there are other ways to get you moving this is simply one is the easiest and quickest way of doing so but it is not the only way.

All the techniques I have mentioned are very effective in getting you feeling easier and getting you back to a better, comfortable way of living your day-to-day life. It can be exhausting being in pain and I genuinely understand this I have been there, so completely get that you are in pain, and are probably scared/nervous that treatment will make it worse.

For most patients a little more discomfort for an hour or so after treatment is perfectly normal, for most an instant relief is found even after the first session. The more I work with you the better you will feel. I would love to say I can fix the issue in one session, but mostly 3-5 sessions should see the improvement not only get better but stay that way!!

What can you help with ? It's not back pain I have

Literally from head to toe I can help with this, as I have touched on above if you have a sore big toe, your entire body will have changed how you move to avoid the discomfort. The body is fascinating, itt will adapt to allow you e to get on with life so makes little changes along the way to protect itself.

You probably haven't even noticed that your neck is slowly arching forward, it happens so slowly over time and then all of a sudden you notice that it has bent to one side and you can't move it back, or similarly your shoulders when you look in the mirror may not look equal any more.

Firstly panic not this happens to most patients I see, and secondly we can work to get this moving better along with the rest of you so that it becomes more neutral again - so clever right !! I do adore my job I love taking the time to look at your entire body, to figure out what needs to change and then get straight to work on doing so. The more complex the better, I thoroughly enjoy getting you moving in ways that you probably haven't been able to do in years, you have just become so used to how it moves now that you haven't even realised its changed.

Osteopaths are able to treat so many different issues, the list is long so the shorter answer is more than likely yes I can help.

Celebratory dance at me completing my first blog :D :D :D

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