This depends on a wide range of factors. While most patients will experience some improvement after the first session, typically three to four treatments are required to achieve a reasonable degree of improvement.
On average, patients require 4 – 6 sessions to achieve a substantial and lasting improvement. We are usually able to give a more accurate prognosis after a couple of treatments. Individuals with particularly long standing problems typically require a longer course of treatment – but not always.
The osteopath will discuss a treatment plan with you – this will include issues such as the type of osteopathic techniques to be used, frequency and number of treatments and objectives of the treatment. The plan is under constant review.
Many of our patients attend for regular treatment, especially those with degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. The frequency of treatment varies, as one would expect, dependent on a range of factors.
Our aim is to find a pattern of treatment which is practical, realistic and beneficial. We aim to treat effectively, but not unnecessarily or too frequently.
Typically the patients who attend for maintenance treatment report that their condition has improved and is stabilised with osteopathic treatment. They feel and function well with the benefit of regular osteopathy and frequently report that they are taking less pain relieving medication.
There is no hard and fast rule about this, and certainly no obligation to commit to maintenance treatment. It is not uncommon for patients to attend for a short course of treatment and to respond well. These patients often return several years later to report that they had been pain free since the last attendance but have come again with a problem that has recently occurred.
Being treated by an osteopath is generally a comfortable experience. It is not usually painful as the treatment is tailored to the individual; and their body’s need and capabilities.
The osteopath will agree a treatment plan with you that will take account of a wide range of factors. Some techniques – particularly some connective tissue/massage approaches - may be tender while applied, but will frequently provide an immediate benefit. Patient feedback is sought while treatment is being given in order to adjust the treatment to best effect.
Osteopaths often employ a joint manipulation technique known as a high velocity thrust or HVT. This type of treatment is used to perform a controlled manipulation of the joint – to gap and free its surfaces. This enables the joints to move more freely and has profound effects on the surrounding and associated connective tissues, local circulation and nervous system. These techniques result in the well-known “crack” that is achieved. Whilst perhaps dramatic this technique is generally quite comfortable – in fact some patients really enjoy it.
Cranial osteopathic treatment is extremely gentle as very light contact is made with the patient. The gentle nature of this field of osteopathic practice makes it ideal for babies and children as well as anyone who is anxious about other more physical osteopathic treatment techniques.
What reactions can occur following osteopathic treatment? Most patients feel more comfortable and freer either immediately following treatment or within 12 – 24 hours. Some can experience a mild soreness or ache which usually resolves – leaving the patient feeling better than pre- treatment - within 24 hours.
Studies suggest that after joint manipulation performed by osteopaths, chiropractors and manipulative physiotherapists about 5% of patients experience a mild and transient discomfort. Discomfort following subsequent treatments is usually much less likely. Similarly massage and soft tissue work can on occasion result in mild and transient discomfort following treatment.
Serious adverse events following osteopathic treatment are extremely rare. The chances of these occurring can be mitigated by the osteopath taking a thorough case history and performing screening test to ensure that only safe and appropriate treatment is provided. Any risk associated with a particular technique or treatment will be discussed before consent is given for treatment – this is a legal requirement and should be adhered to by any therapist or physician/surgeon.
Can osteopathy be used in conjunction with other treatments such as physiotherapy, or while I am taking pain relieving medication?
Yes. Osteopathic treatment can complement or be complemented by other forms of treatment. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence to support the benefits a multi-disciplinary approach, especially with difficult, complex and long-standing musculo-skeletal problems.