I don’t know where I’d be without my osteopath! Certainly not in the gym as much, that’s for sure. I’ve been visiting Chris Allen at City Way Health Clinic in Kent to treat some muscle tension in my left shoulder. To find out all about my injury rehab and what a full osteopathy treatment is really like, head over to our YouTube channel where you get to come along to an appointment with me!
I thought it would be handy to “ask the osteo” and get some questions answered and some myths dispelled for our readers! If you don’t really know what osteopathy is, or why you might need it, read on..
First thing’s first: Why might someone need an appointment with an osteopath?
An osteopathy appointment is needed for anyone suffering with an acute or ongoing musculoskeletal complaint ranging from peripheral joint pain (hip, knee, wrist elbow etc….) to neck and back pain. The reason to visit an osteopath over, say, a massage therapist is due to the length of training and knowledge we have. It takes 4 years of full time training to become an osteopath covering all areas of musculoskeletal complaints, orthopaedic conditions and testing, pathologies and medical screening. Basically, you know you are in safe hands visiting an osteopath!
What’s the most common problem among your clients?
The most common complaint by quite a long way is lumbar spine pain, followed by cervical spine and thoracic spine. After spinal complaints peripheral joint pains fill up the rest of our days with a bit of a change. As much as we love treating spinal complaints it is nice to have some variation in the day.
Perfect, I’ll make sure I keep bringing my dodgy shoulder along then!
What’s the rarest or weirdest complaint you’ve treated recently?
One of the rarer things we see are headaches and migraines! Not many people know or would even think to seek osteopathic treatment for ongoing headaches or migraines, obviously not every headache and migraine sufferer will benefit from treatment but we do have success treating these complaints. Tension arising from the cervical spine, neck and upper back musculature, can be enough to cause what are affectionately known as cervicogenic headaches. Treatment, exercises and postural advice can be enough to help clear the headaches and keep that at bay for the longer term.
I would never think of osteopathy as a migraine treatment! How interesting..
I know I often pull some good pain-faces in our appointments. Does, or should, osteopathy treatments hurt?
The majority of the treatment is not painful, however if an area of chronic muscle tightness is causing the issue, then it needs to broken down. This part can be quite uncomfortable or painful, but we never cause pain unnecessarily and if we need to it is always within the patient’s tolerance.
Admittedly, there’s something kinda nice about having a big ol’ knot worked out…
You’ve also cracked my spine a few times! What is this and why do you do it?
The cracking noise that is heard during a spinal manipulation is a release of carbon dioxide from the joint cavity produced by causing small cavitation (gapping) in the joint, the full version of this is a little complex…. so I will leave it there for now! We use this technique to improve joint mobility, reduce muscular tension and improve function of the joint.
Cool, I knew there must be some science behind it! Is it at all dangerous though?
Primarily not, however there are certain conditions that are contraindications to this type of manipulation. Our osteopaths take a full case history and medical history to determine this before any treatment is carried out. If this type of manipulation is to be carried out it is with the patient’s consent and would not be forced upon them.
The cracks make a really satisfying noise, too..
Yes they do! The noise is not always necessary though, and as satisfying as it is to hear for both patient and practitioner, mobilising a joint does not always involve a clicking sound.
What’s your number one piece advice for looking after your body?
Keep your body flexible, strong, well hydrated and with a good, clean diet. Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs a cheat day, having a treat or not doing your stretches, but they should be here-and-there, not 5 cheat days a week! I believe regular stretching should be like brushing your teeth a daily activity.
Great advice! Stretching is definitely underrated. Is there anything in particular that you’d say is especially bad for the bones and joints?
Not exercising or not moving on daily basis. Many people spend hours sitting at a desk or in the car. This lack of movement causes muscles to become weak and tight that then can’t support your skeleton and this often leads to back, neck or joint pain. On the other hand, exercising with bad form or technique can be equally as bad for you and can lead to injury rather than just dysfunction. Injuries take time to heal and need the correct rehabilitation approach to make sure your injury repairs in the best way possible, to reduce the risk of re-injuring that area.
And finally, what would you suggest someone with a suspected injury do?
My best piece of advice is to seek a professional’s opinion on whatever area of your health you concerned with and be careful of self-diagnosing via Google.
Big thanks to Chris and the team at City Way Health Clinic in Kent for being involved with this blog post and YouTube video, too. It’s been fun! It almost goes without saying that I highly recommend them, by far the best sports-related treatment I’ve had. If you’re in the area and fancy trying them out, or even if you’d just like some more information or advice, check out their website.
Who knew migraines could be spine related, eh?!