All Osteopathic students must undergo four years of full time study (five years part time) which includes a great deal of book time and at least 1000 hours of clinical practice before even being allowed to take their final exams. Once graduated, this is only the beginning and Osteopaths only really find their feet once they have seen plenty of patients over a number of years.
Osteopaths are trained to diagnose many musculoskeletal injuries through case history taking, examinations and special testing. Should your case presentation raise some questions then you may be referred onwards to another health professional, such as your GP.
When a patient arrives, your Osteopath is already gathering information about your injury, its location and how it is affecting them. A full case history is gathered to create a story and to get some ideas about what may be injured, the cause, and how it is affecting the daily life of that patient. A full standing, sitting and laying examination will then either reinforce the ideas that have been created, or negate them. For example, a patient may point to their shoulder being the painful region but there can in fact be a number of potential reasons why they may be experiencing pain here. Is it a neck, shoulder or upper rib problem? Should we consider a systemic cause? Is that patient under a great deal of stress or anxiety? Can they continue to work? Do they have a lot of responsibilities at work or at home? Have they had an accident? The questions can go on and on, but we as Osteopaths are building a picture of you as a person, not as a set of signs and symptoms as this will guide your treatment and management plan.
You will always be fully involved in your interaction with your Osteopath, being informed of our thoughts, potential care plans, and home-based rehabilitation programmes. You should always feel like you are in control of your recovery and be free to ask questions about any aspect of your care. Research states that patients who feel fully involved in their treatment plan are more likely to recover in a shorter time period.