Osteopathic treatment of lower back pain, shoulder & neck pain
The most popular reasons for visiting an osteopath are for lower back pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Osteopaths have a good reputation for resolving these issues and many of the techniques they use have been favourably assessed by scientific studies. In common with other conditions the Osteopath always looks for the underlying cause of back,neck and shoulder problems, employing a variety of therapeutic techniques to suit the needs of the patient. With Osteopathic treatment stiffness and pain are almost always reduced and often resolved completely.
There are some points to note about the treatment of sciatica. Most importantly, what most people call sciatica is not exactly the same as the medical definition. Sciatica is pain that originates from irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of the thigh, the outer side of the calf and into the foot. It usually arises as a result of irritation of the nerve roots at the base of the spine. If it is from nerve damage due to disk injury or degenerative change then there is only moderate evidence that Osteopathy can be helpful. Fortunately the causes of pain that feels like sciatica are usually different and very treatable. Sciatica like pain can be caused by muscle spasms in the buttocks, which can also affect the sciatic nerve. Relaxing the muscle can be achieved effectively with Osteopathic techniques. Muscle strain in the hamstrings due to pelvic strain, injury or asymmetry can also feel like it could be sciatica and again Osteopathy is a good way of resolving this kind of issue.
How the treatment works
On the initial visit an Osteopath will tend to concentrate on relieving the acute pain or discomfort that prompted the need for care. Gentle articulations, specifically focused massage and joint articulations are employed to improve mobility and bring relief. This can be especially effective for lower back pain and neck pain and symptoms that feel like sciatica. Exercise and lifestyle advice are also offered so that the patient can continue to improve as they get on with everyday life. Underlying issues and problems with posture are also addressed over time, through ongoing treatment, or exercises. Where necessary the expertise of other medical practitioners is sought in order to ensure the most complete and rapid path to successful resolution.
How long it takes
Most problems with the back, neck and shoulders respond very quickly to the combination of specifically applied massage and careful spinal adjustments. One or two treatments will often result in significant reported improvement in comfort and mobility. Back and neck problems tend to yield the most immediate results with shoulders taking longer to respond. This is probably because the shoulder is a more complicated and less stable joint. Addressing the underlying causes takes additional care, an Osteopath can work with a patient over a period of months to address postural and chronic underlying factors. It is rare for a particular complaint to take more than 4 to 6 treatments to resolve, however the number of treatments needed often depends on the history and age of the complaint.
Osteopathy is an increasingly well recognised approach for addressing back, neck and shoulder pain. With proper treatment patients commonly experience an almost complete resolution of symptoms and are also shown the means to keep themselves comfortable.
Often lifestyle factors are important in the onset and recurrence of back, neck and shoulder pain. Many people who realise this may visit an Osteopath for an "MOT" every three or six months to maintain optimum mobility and freedom of movement. This has many benefits beyond keeping pain away. It is thought that because spinal mobility is better maintained that there is a decreased risk of injury. Patients also frequently report an improved sense of health and wellbeing.