If you’ve never used an osteopath before you probably have plenty of questions. I’ll answer try and answer a few of the more common questions below.


If you’ve never used an osteopath before you probably have plenty of questions. I’ll answer try and answer a few of the more common questions below.
What do you treat?
Osteopathy is more than just bones, osteopaths are musculoskeletal specialists who are trained to work with their hands to diagnose and treat all manner of problems affecting the muscles, bones and nerves in your body. Osteopaths treat patients of all ages.
Do I need to be referred by a doctor?
No. Most osteopathic patients are self referred, some GP’s may recommend seeing an osteopath. Osteopathy isn’t currently available on the NHS in Bristol and Somerset.
What do osteopaths do?
Osteopaths believe the body has the capability to repair itself, it just sometimes needs a little help along the way. Many different techniques are used during treatment, the most common of which are deep soft tissue massage, joint articulation, stretching of muscles and specific joint manipulation. Treatment helps encourage the blood and nerve supply to tissues, assisting your body’s own healing mechanisms. Advice on posture and self management, including exercises, may be given to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.
Does treatment hurt?
No. All attempts are made to minimise discomfort. Treatment is designed to be gentle and non-traumatic. It is more likely that you will experience some discomfort within 24-48 hours after treatment. Common treatment reactions are; tiredness, achiness, pain in the same area of your complaint.
What do I wear?
Your osteopath ideally needs to see the area of your pain and any relating area. Depending on the area of your pain, you may be asked to undress to your underwear. If you are not comfortable with this, say so. It is perfectly normal for patients to wear loose fitting shorts and a vest/bralet on top of underwear for more comfort. Your osteopath may even have shorts for you to wear. If you are nervous about undressing please speak to your osteopath prior to your appointment and/or bring a chaperone.
How long is treatment?
Treatment time can vary based on your complaint, when something is very sore we tend to give less, but more specific treatment. If something is chronic then we may need to treat more and for longer. Generally treatment times can be anywhere from 1 hour to 15 minutes but your osteopath will give you an idea of how long and for how many treatments at your initial consultation.
How many treatments will I need?

The following descriptions are detailed so that you have a better idea of which category your symptoms fall into and therefore how many treatments you may require.

Acute Patient – This is used to describe new and recent (<1 week) symptoms. Often conditions are still very painful and movement is limited. If your symptoms are less than 24 hours, please call for management advice, we will often encourage you to stay at home as treatment doesn’t always make things better at this stage. Acute symptoms tend to require 1 – 4 sessions. Your osteopath will then discuss with you whether you need any more treated over a protracted period to prevent reoccurrence.

Sub Acute Patient – This is used to describe symptoms that are between 2 and 8 weeks old. The symptoms may have reduced in intensity but not gone away. Some activities of daily living (ADL’s) or simple movements, will still cause symptoms to ‘flare’. These symptoms have had time to develop compensation mechanisms. The original injury has not been able to mend and other areas are now starting to complain. These symptoms will often take between 4 – 8 sessions to correct, but could take more.

Chronic Patient – This term is used to describe symptoms from 8 weeks to many years. Chronic symptoms, particularly ones that have been troublesome for many years, require a multi disciplinary approach (e.g. GP, specialist, counselling, lifestyle change). You may find that treatment gives you symptom relief, but how long that relief lasts will depend on the individual case and what other changes are being made. These symptoms often require a maintenance treatment protocol, alongside other adjuncts.

How much does it cost?
Please see our clinic page for more information about prices.
Ice or Heat?
Try both. Ice is advised for acute symptoms and to help settle any symptom flare up. Ice can be useful post treatment if you feel a little sore. Apply your ice source by first wrapping it in a tea towel, then placing it over the area of pain. As a general rule, don’t leave ice on an area for longer than 15 minutes – if the area is quite exposed e.g. the shoulder or wrist, you may only manage a couple of minutes before you need to take it away, this is fine, repeat as required. Heat is useful for chronic conditions with associated muscle tension. It can also be particularly useful when you have a headache that has been caused by neck tension. In acute symptoms, heat can make things worse. Never apply heat for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Contrast bathing is where you apply ice then heat. This technique is useful a few days after an acute injury. Always start and finish with ice e.g 5 min ice, 5 min heat, 5 min ice. Generally the thought of heat is alot more relaxing than ice, however, don’t be afraid of ice – it can be a very useful tool when you are in pain.
How are osteopaths trained?
UK trained osteopaths follow a full-time four year degree course prior to registering with the General Osteopathic Council. Osteopathic training involves completing over 1000 clinical hours – working with members of the general public.
Is osteopathy safe during pregnancy?
Yes. Osteopathic treatment can be an excellent way of helping your body as it changes during pregnancy. Most osteopaths (and other manual therapists) tend to avoid treatment during the third and fourth trimester (weeks 12 – 16) since this is a vulnerable time for the growing foetus.
Can I claim for osteopathy on my private insurance?
Some medical insurers cover osteopathic treatment, please check with your individual insurer prior to commencing treatment. For more information on which providers we are registered with please contact us.