Osteopaths have a very good reputation for treating back pain or restriction, after all back pain is the most common type of musculoskeletal pain and as a result we treat it often.
So… Is Osteopathy Just For Backs?
Well… the spine is a very important structure, it helps hold us up for a start. It also protects the spinal cord. The nerves exiting the spine go on to control muscles of the leg, arms, chest, back and neck. So to ignore the spine or back when examining a musculoskeletal problem would be like examining a muscle or joint without considering its nerve supply. You could relate this to trying to find out why your kettle is not working without first checking if it’s plugged in or the electrics our on. The spine is very important to each bone, joint and muscle in the body, and so it is important to consider it with almost every problem we see. Even a problem unlikely to directly effect the back could have an indirect effect on it, for example a fractured wrist. The injury in this case is likely to be local to the wrist, but the secondary effects of the wrist being in a cast, and having to rely heavily on the other arm could place load through the back to compensate.
So What Else Can Osteopaths Treat?
Osteopaths work to facilitate the bodies own ability to heal, working with the bodies structure and function to provide your body with the optimal healing environment. A whole body system for wellness. With this principle in mind we could potentially treat many conditions. However, the efficacy of this may be questionable, and its important to know our limitations in practice. We do this by reviewing scientific research relevant to our practice and base our treatments on best research and practice. This is referred to as evidence based or evidence informed medicine, and is relevant to all fields of medicine.
Ultimately this means that we can provide therapy for many conditions but can not offer or imply that we can cure the problem without a strong evidence base (backed up by research).
The Committees of Advertising Practice have accepted that there is supporting evidence that Osteopaths can provide effective treatment for:
- generalised aches and pains,
- joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core osteoarthritis treatments and exercise
- arthritic pain,
- general, acute & chronic backache, back pain (not arising from injury or accident)
- uncomplicated mechanical neck pain (as opposed to neck pain following injury i.e. whiplash)
- headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic) / migraine prevention
- frozen shoulder/ shoulder and elbow pain/ tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, but not isolated occurrences
- circulatory problems,
- digestion problems,
- joint pains, lumbago,
- muscle spasms,
- inability to relax,
- rheumatic pain,
- minor sports injuries and tensions.