I want to ...

General Questions for people

Do I need referral by my doctor?

No, this is not necessary, although many G.P.s do send patients to us for treatment. Osteopathy is a profession that is not supplementary to medicine, it stands on a par with doctors and dentists in having its own regulatory body. Osteopathy is recognised and regulated under the 1993 Act of parliament by the General Osteopathic Council or GOsC. As such we are highly trained, updated regularly and bound by a strict ethical code of conduct. Our high standard of competency ensures that it is perfectly safe for patients to see us without involving their G.P. unless they wish to. If we feel it clinically necessary, we will refer patients back to their doctors, should the need arise.

Do all Osteopaths practice Cranial Osteopathy? 

By no means, is this the case, Cranial Osteopathy is a challenging postgraduate subject requiring the development of advanced knowledge and skills over some considerable time. However, in recent times Cranial Osteopathy is now being introduced to undergraduate osteopaths at the training colleges, as a taster, as part of their studies. In order to be able to use cranial Osteopathy clinically in practice, it is then necessary to attend a postgraduate training program and period of mentoring, in order to become proficient in the approach. The Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy has a structured and extensive post graduate training program for osteopaths wanting to develop their skills and proficiency in Cranial Osteopathy. Those osteopaths undertaking the training pathway who have completed initial courses can become members of the college and show this by having MSCCO after their osteopathic qualifications. For those who have completed all the pathway courses and submitted assignments they are awarded a fellowship and can put FSCCO after their name. Those fellows who have undertaken the subsequent extra work and training to become teachers with the SCCO, can have FSCCO[ED] in their listing. There is a listing of members and fellows of the college which can be accessed online via SCCO.ac for those wishing to find an osteopath trained in the cranial approach to treatment.

Can I get Cranial Osteopathy on the N.H.S.?

This is very unlikely, only a very few Osteopaths work under the NHS, and these will be unlikely to have undertaken postgraduate training in the specialist area of Cranial Osteopathy. We have invested considerable time and money in our post-graduate training in Cranial Osteopathy, and have been in practice for over 33 years. A good Cranial Osteopathic treatment needs to be allocated rather more time per treatment than the N.H.S. allows, and all experienced Cranial Osteopaths already have busy case loads making it unlikely that they will have extra time available to work for the NHS.  

What happens at a consultation?

After you arrive for your initial appointment you will be shown to one of our consulting rooms. Here, an interview- called a case history, will be taken by your Osteopath. After gaining the details of your problem, your general health and other associated important factors, you will be asked to undress down to your underwear, for a standing examination to be made; we aim to ensure that you are happy and comfortable at all times during your consultation, all aspects of examination and treatment are subject to your full consent at the time, and we will stop and clarify anything that you are unsure about.

You may be asked to make some movements, and some other tests may be made if necessary. After this you will be asked to lie down on a padded treatment couch and relax while your Osteopath uses his or her highly developed sense of touch to find the problem areas in your body. You may be asked further questions during this time as the examination takes place. If appropriate, treatment using -what our patients have remarked as being very gentle and effective- Cranial Osteopathic techniques pioneered by Sutherland will be utilised to begin your treatment program. Following this your Osteopath will outline their findings and suggest a program of treatment and after-care advice. Further appointments will be booked as necessary, and subsequent appointments will be shorter and concentrate mostly on treatment.

Do I need to bring a chaperone?

If you would feel happier bringing a friend or relative to accompany you for part or all of your consultation, please do so. The majority of our patients feel happy not to be accompanied, like their consultation and treatment to be entirely confidential, and feel more relaxed without onlookers. We take the view that it must be the decision of our adult patient, which they feel most comfortable with. With children and young people under 16yrs however, we ask a parent or guardian to be present unless agreed otherwise by all parties.

How long will treatment and resolution of my problem take?

Occasionally, patients inform us that resolution of their problem has occured in just 2 or 3 treatments, particularly in young people, this is provided the strain is minor and the underlying disruption to tissue function not pronounced. Mostly, and particularly when the problem has been there for sometime, or been building up for sometime, a course of several treatments over a period of time is required. This is in order to ease the body back to proper function at a rate that enables it to accept, utilise and retain the B.M.T. initiated adjustments, allowing the underlying chronic tissue dysfunctions time to change and return to more normal function.

What does treatment feel like?

Usually our patients feel deeply relaxed and comfortable during treatment. Occasionally you may feel a few twinges if we are working on areas that are tender or inflamed, sometimes you may find that areas that you did not know were tight will feel a little tender also - if this is a problem we are always happy to find a different approach to a sore spot or work more slowly. [Babies and young children may get a little irritable at this time, your steady confident support is of great help to make them feel safe, and accept their treatment contentedly.]
You might feel a little bit light-headed after your treatment session, this is quite normal for some patients and is especially due to the very relaxed state that patients report after treatment. It is best to get up slowly and move around gently to start with, usually this will settle in a few minutes. If you feel affected this way, go for a short walk and do not drive until things do settle.

How will my body react?

Although patients report that Cranial Osteopathy feels very relaxing whilst you are being treated, it is quite usual to feel some discomfort for about 3 days or so after treatment, as the body adjusts to the treatment process. This we believe is due to changes in the balance of the muscles, joints and connective tissue, and the removal of toxins trapped in the compressed areas prior to treatment. At this time it is best not to do too much, particularly involving strenuous, heavy or awkward work, prolonged sitting at the computer or travel long distances. Whilst gentle exercise to keep the joints moving and circulation going is usually helpful.

How can I help the progress of my treatment program?

To get the best from each treatment there is a lot you can do to help, please follow as closely as possible all of the recommendations specifically given to you by your Osteopath. Most conditions, unless advised otherwise are better for gentle movement, so try to arrange not to spend the rest of the day sitting at a desk. It is good to move around gently, your condition permitting,- activities like swimming- allowing your head through the water-, tai chi and walking are usually beneficial.
It is also important to try not to arrange a long drive or journey, for at least 3-4 days – even as a passenger- to avoid the ‘whole body vibration’ stress on your system. Avoid strenuous activities, D.I.Y., sport, heavy lifting, digging, gardening, twisting or reaching and try not to get yourself chilled if possible.
It is also helpful to try to avoid mental or emotional tension for a few days after treatment, so saying ‘no’ and avoiding stressful people and situations is advisable. Formulating a plan for the future to help yourself deal more effectively with these problem areas will help in the long term. Sensible attention to diet, lifestyle and sleep will also help a great deal.

Will I need to have top-up treatment sessions?

This depends upon the nature of the problem that you are suffering from, your state of health and well being, how long the root of the problem has been present within your system, your environment and work load, and other factors affecting your levels of tension and stress with life at the time of your treatment program. Most problems will begin to show indications of some improvement after 4-6 visits, others may take longer especially if inflammation, scar tissue, or underlying poor health is present. Many however will be to all intents and purposes completely resolved after this number of visits. Usually it is possible for us to give you some idea in the initial 1-3 visits, as to which category your problem fits.     

Occasionally a patient will over-do things in some manner, or have a mishap when their body is still changing from a previous treatment, and disrupt the process of readjustment occurring in the sensitive tissues of the body. This may cause an exacerbation of the problem and may need a sooner follow-up visit to settle things down again.

Sometimes there is injury induced, or age related wear and tear in your body, and this may mean that periodic top-up maintenance treatment is necessary to keep everything functioning happily, and to enhance your level of comfort. Frequently there are ongoing unalterable commitment, temperament, work, environment, underlying constitutional disease processes, or lifestyle difficulties, which make the individual prone to recurrence of their problems, and this can occur in any age group. These situations we can help by offering advice and treatment as required.

What is the difference between Cranial Osteopathy and cranio-sacral therapy?

All Osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council, a statutory regulatory body of similar standing to those for doctors and dentists.

Cranial Osteopathy was pioneered in the 1920’s by Dr Sutherland, has spent many years in it’s development, and was and is only taught to Osteopaths by the Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation of the USA, the registered Osteopathic colleges of the UK- specifically the Sutherland Cranial College which offers in excess of 9 interlinked modules in cranial osteopathy creating a structured pathway of postgraduate learning culminating in an MSCC award in cranial osteopathy, and also the British School of Osteopathy which offers a basic level course to new graduates in the subject.

As all Osteopaths are now stringently regulated with excellent medical knowledge in addition to their Osteopathic expertise, there can be little fear of misdiagnosis, and the extensive continuing training program in Cranial Osteopathy ensures refinement of technical skills enabling your treatment to be as successful as possible.

Cranio-sacral therapy was according to anecdotal historical reminisses essentially ‘coined’ by Upledger in around 1976 as a result of him noticing the work of trained Cranial Osteopaths. Upledger went on to try some of the ideas, and started teaching them to everyone ranging from other Osteopaths to beauticians and hairdressers. Although some people attending these short courses and training programs did already have  an understanding of, anatomy, physiology, pathology and Osteopathic philosophy, some did not as they were not already practitioners. Cranio-sacral therapy does not have a statutory regulatory body, and whilst there are voluntary organisations associated with it, it lies outside the rigorous mandate of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence. The CHRE is a regulator that oversees the standards of the statutory bodies for healthcare e.g the General Osteopathic Council, the General Medical Council, e.t.c., and ensures that the public are properly protected.    

Consequently there remains the possiblity that the non Osteopathically or non medically qualified practitioners of cranio-sacral therapy, with no regulator to oversee their standards, may fall short in their clinical care of patients and best practice requirements, and yet not be answerable. As Cranio-sacral therapy is not monitored or regulated statutorily in any way, standards of effectiveness, safety, and care, are likely to vary widely between individual practitioners, and in relation to the background of the practitioner. This can make Cranio-sacral therapy somewhat of a lottery for patients, whilst some practitioners may be safe and effective in their treatment of patients, others may not, and this is a cause for concern.

Whats the difference between Osteopathy and Chiropractic?

Osteopathy and Chiropractic have similar roots, Daniel Palmer is atributed as being the originator of Chiropractic. Coincidentally or not, Palmer is purported to have started Chiropractic shortly after accompanying Dr Struthers, an Osteopath, who was a 1893 graduate of  A.T. Still's College of Osteopathy- to observe a class of Osteopathic students at Still's college in 1895. Palmer then returned home after spending some time observing the studies of the Osteopathic students; obviously inspired by his visit to Dr Still's college of Osteopathy Palmer then started Chiropractic, his version of A.T. Still's hands-on musculo-skeletal medicine. As Osteopaths we believe that A.T.Still, the founder of Osteopathy, was by his inspiration of Daniel Palmer also instrumental in the development of Chiropractic! 

Today, Chiropractic like Osteopathy, has its own statutory regulatory body setting standards of practice for Chiropractors. In terms of treatment, some chiropractors will use fairly gentle techniques, however it seems that many chiropractors will use almost exclusively the abrupt manipulative 'crunching' type techniques applied directly to the spine. For patients with chronic underlying problems in their bodies where scar tissue, bone thinning or degenerative changes are involved, this approach may prove risky and counter productive. For these patients we believe that it is especially important to use as little force in treatment as possible; release and balanced tension techniques [used by us at Honiton Osteopathic Centre] have been found by our patients to be very safe and they say give excellent results with their symptoms.

Overall in general, all Osteopaths will tend to use an approach designed to stretch and release the tight areas in preparation for any manipulative technique used; they will also extend their attention to other areas of the body including limb joints like elbows, knees etc. as necessary