Osteopathy. It’s not just about Backs and Bones.
Many of you may not have heard of an osteopath before. That’s not so surprising. Osteopathy is not yet available on the NHS in Scotland, and there aren't many of us here: only 156 registered in Scotland!
Osteopathy has been around a long time though. It was a gentleman called A.T Still who coined the term ‘Osteopathy’ in the late 1800’s in the USA.
In order to become an Osteopath in the UK, you have to obtain a degree in Osteopathy. In recent years however, students are required to complete a Master’s Degree in Osteopathy. We are highly trained. At university we learn all medical clinical examinations – we can take your blood pressure and perform an abdominal exam! We learn the anatomy of the body in fine detail.
The title ‘Osteopath’ is protected and in order to call yourself such you have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council. We have to complete annual CPD (continued professional development) to maintain our registration.
What does an osteopath do?
We use highly refined, specialised manual therapy techniques to encourage the body to heal itself. There is a whole spectrum of techniques from the very gentle ‘cranio-sacral therapy’, to mobilisations, manipulations and massage. We use whatever methods the person needs on that day. Not every practitioner uses every technique; we are all different so you’ll always find an osteopath that suits you. Some osteopaths have acquired extra training in kinesiotaping and acupuncture to name a couple and some of us work on the viscera (organs) too. We have a whole-body approach.
Why try us?
We will do our very best to get you better, quickly. Most people feel the benefit of treatment immediately, but for some it can take another session or two to improve. Generally, 3-4 treatments over 3-4 weeks is usually enough to feel like you’re on the road to full recovery and we might suggest another 1-2 panned out over a month after that. But everyone is different and it really depends on the tissues involved in the injury, how long you’ve had the complaint for, age, health and very importantly your compliance with rehabilitative exercises prescribed.
I often find through speaking to patients that their aches and pains have been there for years. They have seen their GP who prescribes pain killers and refers them to physio, which can take months. Pain killers short term can be useful, but long-term use is not good for your overall health. Sometimes patients are told the NHS have exhausted all avenues and some are told nothing more can be done. You can normally get an appointment within 2 days of enquiring and there is normally a lot that can be done to help! Do not except “it’s wear-and-tear and you’ll just have to live with it”! It’s very rare that this is the case.
We offer 40-minute appointments as standard to ensure you get the most out of each session. I have tried working with 30-minute appointments in the past and I just can’t get through everything. AT Still said that with treatment you have to “find it, fix it, then leave it alone”. Sometimes it takes a while to ask the tissues to change – we use palpation/feel with our hands while we are working to actually change the tissue state. When this happens, you feel better.
Some patients find that after the issue is improved, niggles can return due to our hectic work life balance. Many patients come back for an ‘MOT’ when they feel the need, but this is entirely the patients’ decision.
What can you expect from Bearsden Osteopaths?
We’re a friendly bunch, all doing our best to keep people moving, working and functioning. We will always be open and honest with you and help you understand our treatments and recommendations.
If you have any questions at all regarding your aches and pains then please do contact us, we’d love to hear from you!
Many of us neglect our feet and over time they can become weak and deformed. As a result our balance can be affected. Painful conditions like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonopathy and bunions are very common and they can be extremely painful, but other issues further up the chain can appear as a result of a neglected foot: knee pain, lower back pain, hip pain, even neck pain.
Wearing narrow shoes where our toes can't splay out, or heels (even a very small heel) where feet are placed into a very unnatural shape, or even long term use of orthotics can all contribute to the neglected foot.
Let's check in with our feet to see how they feel. Let's look after them. Try these exercises by Correct Toes..they might be much harder than they look!
There's almost always an unstable or muscular imbalance in the leg (on either side, or both!) and at the hip too which will need addressing, along any alignment issues which Linda can help you understand and correct.
Osteopaths can restore mobility and function of the foot, ankle and well, the whole body. Our hands on skills can help reduce the pain which makes performing exercises much easier and more efficient. Contact us for more information.
The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. Nerves roots exit the spine from the levels L4-S3 and join together to form the sciatic nerve. It supplies the sensation and muscles of the leg. Sciatic pain can come in many forms. It can cause excruciating pain deep in the buttock, down the back of the leg, the ankle, the foot. It can cause pins and needles, numbness and weakness in the leg and the foot.
It's said that around 40% of people will suffer from sciatica once in their life time. Sciatica simply means pain in the sciatic nerve. There can however, be a few causes of pain which normally arise because the sciatic nerve is compressed by the structures it lies next to, or pierces through.
Prolapsed disc - AKA herniated disc or disc bulge
A disc can bulge and press onto the sciatic nerve. This is very painful indeed. Symptoms can include pain that is worsened with coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose. Sitting and bending is unbearable. Herniated discs can improve but occasionally surgical intervention is needed to solve them.
***Symptoms that require urgent medical attention***: numbness in the 'saddle' area in between the legs; from the genitals to the anus, difficulty passing urine and loss of control of bowel movements, severe pain and symptoms of numbness down both legs at the same time. These symtoms are a sign of cauda equina syndrome and could require urgent surgery to prevent long term damage to these areas.
Facet (spinal) joint and sacroiliac joint inflammation
These joints are formed at the back of the spinal column and pelvis, close to where the nerve roots exit the spine. Dysfunction and inflammation of one of these joints can irritate the nerve and cause pain.
A very common is piriformis syndrome. This muscle in the back of the hip/deep buttock can spasm/tighten or become strained- often due to repetitive pressure from sitting, or for example a fall which then can irritate the nerve. In some people the nerve runs through the muscle, so when it goes into spasm it clamps around the nerve! You can imagine how painful that can be!
When degeneration of the spine has become so severe, the joints and discs deform and start to impinge on the nerves before they exit the spine. It gets worse with walking, but the pain is greatly relieved by walking with a shopping trolley - or when cutting the grass! The stooped forward posture takes the pressure off the nerves by opening the worn joints.
Like with any pain, the cause can be from other pathology including cancer. Red Flags for this include unremitting pain, which is worse at night and not aggravated or relieved by movement. Other symptoms: night sweats, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, change in bladder or bowel pattern and general feeling of malaise. It goes without saying that a visit to your GP is highly important if you are experiencing this.
How can an Osteopath Help?
When you visit us for an appointment we ask a load of questions, perform movement and orthopaedic tests to find out where your sciatica is coming from, and to check the level of compression of the nerve. We then treat accordingly and give you exercises to help continue the healing process. We explain what we've found and what we will do. Treatments include massage, mobilisations and if certain criteria fits we might manipulate too. It really depends on what we find on the day.
If you have sciatica and want it diagnosed and fixed, come in and see one of our osteopaths or our sports therapist today. Call or book online.
Most people will suffer with back pain at some point. At Bearsden Osteopaths we diagnose and treat back pain - there can be many causes which produce pain. Here are a few:
There are lots of muscles in the lower back and if we overstretch and load them too much, they can strain, tear and become painful. They normally can heal pretty well given the right encouragement.
This is when the spinal joints become strained and inflammed. They can lock up too, causing limited movement. Alongside this, muscles will become tight (hypertonic) and sometimes even spasm to protect the joint.
This is the joint that is either side of the sacrum at the back of the pelvis. This is commonly affected in pregnant ladies as it can become overly mobile. Muscles around the lower back and hip tighten to protect the joint from moving further = pain and restriction
This can happen if the back has been overstrained, or if the person is particularly mobile.
The discs in between the vertebrae naturally become thinner over time. Our discs are at our best when we are in our 20's...it's all downhill after that! It's not all bad though. Disc degeneration or thinning otherwise known as spondylosis doesn't have to be painful. You can scan anyone on the street and find all sorts of anomalies: some will have pain, some won't.
To diagnose the painful thing in your back, we perform various tests to figure out what is going on. Normally, there's more than one thing that has strained; it's multifactorial. We also test for underlying sources of your pain i.e. you could have a restricted hip, or ankle, or a weaker gluteal muscle group which has affected the mechanics of your back which eventually causes strain.
If there is no apparent reason for your back pain, and you've just woken up with it it's normally due to some kind of postural or alignment issue which we can certainly help with and it's likely some low back pain has been 'brewing' for a while. The body is excellent at adapting to issues, but then it can take a trivial little movement like bending, sneezing or simply 'turning the wrong way' to set it off!
There are more sinister causes for back pain. We take a thorough case history in the first consultation to rule out any serious pathology that could be the cause of your pain to ensure you are safe to treat. If we suspect anything else, we refer you straight back to your GP to ask for further tests to be performed. This is thankfully rare, and remember back pain is extremely common! So even if you are in immense pain, it's very likely it's due to a mechanical cause (i.e. the above list) and some osteopathic treatment along with our expert advice, it will settle down soon.
Any of the above tissues can also impinge on the nerves coming out of your spine and cause sciatica; pain in the leg. This can also be accompanied by pins and needles, numbness and weakness. We can diagnose and treat sciatica in most cases too.
If you'd like to learn more about your back pain, call us or book online to make an appointment
One of the many techniques osteopaths perform is a “manipulation” or “adjustment”. This is commonly performed in the neck, midback, or lower back, although they can also be performed in the joints of the limbs. There may or may not be a pop during the technique, and research has shown that it is not necessary for the technique to be deemed suitable.
Your osteopath will always discuss the benefits and relative risks involved in manipulation, so you can make the decision whether you want it performed. Alternatively, there are other methods and techniques that we are trained to perform aimed at returning you back to health. We always make sure you are a good candidate for a safe manipulation and it definitely should not hurt.