Osteopathy - Patients | HealthShare


What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a primary care profession, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders, and the effects of these conditions on patients' general health. Using many of the diagnostic procedures applied in conventional medical assessment, osteopaths seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopathy is based on the principle that the body has the natural ability to heal. Osteopaths' patient-centred approach to health and well-being means they consider symptoms and healing times in the context of the patient's full medical history, as well as their lifestyle and personal circumstances. This holistic approach ensures that all treatment is tailored to the individual patient.

Who can use it?

Osteopaths clinically specialise in a variety of musculoskeletal and related systemic health conditions including:

  • Joint pain in the spine, hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrist
  • Ligament, tendon and muscle injury
  • Back and nerve related pain, including sciatica
  • Sports injuries- including recovery post fracture and soft tissue injury
  • Postural-related pain including work-related pain and scoliosis
  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain secondary to conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis

Is osteopathy on the NHS?

Osteopathy is only available on the NHS in some areas of the country and when it is available, you will need to be referred by your GP. Osteopaths on the NHS will work in a multidisciplinary team along other musculoskeletal specialists, including physiotherapy and podiatry.

Diagnosing the problem

An Osteopath will clinically diagnose based upon symptom presentation and physical assessment. They will educate you on your diagnosis and provide you with an appropriate management plan, expected healing time. They will work with you to make your treatment specific so you are able to return to your required activities and goals as quickly as possible. When necessary, Osteopaths will communicate with your GP and other healthcare professionals/organisations to ensure you have optimal multi-disciplinary care.


Treatment will be clinically appropriate for your diagnosis as well as in line with current literature, research and healthcare guidelines. The treatment options will be discussed with you to ensure you understand any risks with the treatment and the expected benefits. Treatment may include a combination of:

  • Education upon diagnosis, management, expected healing times, and explanations of causes of pain
  • Manual therapy techniques including: soft-tissue and assisted joint mobilisation, manipulation
  • Exercise therapy - including active-assisted joint mobilisation, stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Lifestyle advice and activity modification and the impact that these condition and treatments have on including sleep, stress, exercise, nutrition, global health and wellbeing

Osteopaths may refer to other healthcare professionals, such as consultants, GPs and clinical specialists, to discuss further management options when appropriate