Sawbridgeworth Osteopathic Clinic
© Neil Mellerick, Sawbridgeworth Osteopathic Clinic 2017

The profession

Training and regulation

Osteopathy in the United Kingdom is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council, with whom all practising osteopaths are required to be registered. All osteopaths undergo a minimum four year training course and are educated to honours degree, or equivalent level. The depth of osteopathic training means that osteopaths are considered by the Department of Health to be primary contact practitioners, who can examine, diagnose, then treat or refer a patient as appropriate. Osteopathic students follow a similar course to orthodox medical students, as well as detailed anatomy and physiology of the whole body. Subjects include the study of pathology, clinical examination of all the body systems, concepts of health care and the philosophy of medicine. Students are also required to undergo at least 1000 hours of clinically based osteopathic practice within the outpatients clinics of the osteopathic colleges. After qualification, osteopaths are required to keep themselves up to date with their knowledge and education and must provide evidence of undergoing at least 30 hours of study per year to the General Osteopathic Council in order to maintain registration.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an independent branch of physical medicine which specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of the body’s structrual components. Its aim is to reduce tensions, strains and restrictions of the muscles, joints and other connective tissues and to alleviate factors which might impede normal blood flow and nerve transmission. It was developed in the USA in the late 19th Century by Dr Andrew Taylor Still and was introduced to Britain in about 1900 by his associate Dr Martin Littlejohn. Osteopathy has become one of the most popular and effective forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), with a proven record of safety and efficacy. Osteopathy was the first of the CAM professions to become regulated by statute, in 1993. Since May 2000, all practising osteopaths are required to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council, which maintains high levels of professional conduct, public safety and educational standards. Most osteopaths work outside the NHS, though all the major health insurance companies include osteopathic treatment in some of their policies. Although in the private sector, we try to maintain fees at a level which is affordable to most people.

Typical conditions treated

Low back pain Sciatica Neck pain Headaches Sports injuries Brachial neuritis Upper extremity pain Hip, knee and ankle pain Stress and tension Arthritic pain
Osteopaths are best known for treating problems related to the spine, though the scope of practice is much wider than this. The majority of our patients consult us with low back or neck pains, which may be due to strains or tears in some of the muscles or ligaments which support and move the spine, or to injuries affecting the intervertebral discs which separate each spinal bone. These disc injuries may in turn lead to compression of the spinal nerves causing the familiar Sciatica or Brachial Neuritis. Because of the complexity of the small nerves and blood vessels associated with the spinal cord, many other systems of the body may become affected, especially when there are long term postural or repetitive strains present. Injuries and problems with the limbs also fall within the osteopath's scope of practice.

What do osteopaths treat?

Sawbridgeworth Osteopathic Clinic
© Neil Mellerick 2017

The profession

Training and regulation

Osteopathy in the United Kingdom is regulated by the General Osteopathic Council, with whom all practising osteopaths are required to be registered. All osteopaths undergo a minimum four year training course and are educated to honours degree, or equivalent level. The depth of osteopathic training means that osteopaths are considered by the Department of Health to be primary contact practitioners, who can examine, diagnose, then treat or refer a patient as appropriate. Osteopathic students follow a similar course to orthodox medical students, as well as detailed anatomy and physiology of the whole body. Subjects include the study of pathology, clinical examination of all the body systems, concepts of health care and the philosophy of medicine. Students are also required to undergo at least 1000 hours of clinically based osteopathic practice within the outpatients clinics of the osteopathic colleges. After qualification, osteopaths are required to keep themselves up to date with their knowledge and education and must provide evidence of undergoing at least 30 hours of study per year to the General Osteopathic Council in order to maintain registration.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an independent branch of physical medicine which specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of the body’s structrual components. Its aim is to reduce tensions, strains and restrictions of the muscles, joints and other connective tissues and to alleviate factors which might impede normal blood flow and nerve transmission. It was developed in the USA in the late 19th Century by Dr Andrew Taylor Still and was introduced to Britain in about 1900 by his associate Dr Martin Littlejohn. Osteopathy has become one of the most popular and effective forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), with a proven record of safety and efficacy. Osteopathy was the first of the CAM professions to become regulated by statute, in 1993. Since May 2000, all practising osteopaths are required to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council, which maintains high levels of professional conduct, public safety and educational standards. Most osteopaths work outside the NHS, though all the major health insurance companies include osteopathic treatment in some of their policies. Although in the private sector, we try to maintain fees at a level which is affordable to most people.

What do osteopaths treat?

Osteopaths are best known for treating problems related to the spine, though the scope of practice is much wider than this. The majority of our patients consult us with low back or neck pains, which may be due to strains or tears in some of the muscles or ligaments which support and move the spine, or to injuries affecting the intervertebral discs which separate each spinal bone. These disc injuries may in turn lead to compression of the spinal nerves causing the familiar Sciatica or Brachial Neuritis. Because of the complexity of the small nerves and blood vessels associated with the spinal cord, many other systems of the body may become affected, especially when there are long term postural or repetitive strains present. Injuries and problems with the limbs also fall within the osteopath's scope of practice.

Typical conditions treated

Low back pain Sciatica Neck pain Headaches Sports injuries Brachial neuritis Upper extremity pain Hip, knee and ankle pain Stress and tension Arthritic pain