Your First Visit to an Osteopath

We hope this information will help you to understand what to expect when visiting an osteopath for the first time.  Osteopaths are professionally trained to diagnose, manage, treat and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system.  All of our Osteopaths are registered with the General Osteopathic Council.  You should always check that your osteopath is fully registered before visiting an osteopath for the first time.

Booking an Appointment

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Our reception team is happy to answer questions about booking an appointment, our location, parking, payment methods, etc.  If you have specific questions about how osteopathic treatment can be of benefit to you, you can ask to speak to one of our osteopaths who are always happy to advise without obligation and totally free of charge.

Will I need a GP referral?

Your GP may suggest osteopathy as a suitable treatment but you can also ‘self-refer’.  However, it is also useful to keep your GP informed about your condition and your progress, including any treatment that you may be undergoing.

I have Private Medical Cover

We are covered by all the UK health insurance companies, including BUPA and AXA PPP.  However, if you have private medical cover you may find that the insurance company require a GP referral before osteopathy treatment is approved. We suggest that you contact them in the first instance to obtain information about the level of cover.

Your First Visit

At your first appointment you will be asked to complete a brief information sheet.  Your osteopath will then ask you questions about your medical history. This will take just a few minutes and will cover information about your symptoms and general medical background. We also suggest that you bring along a list of any prescribed medication.  In total  the consultation will last approximately 30 minutes.

What to Wear

In order to examine you properly, the osteopath may ask you to remove some of your clothing. We suggest that you wear comfortable clothing such as shorts or leggings and a vest top.  You should expect privacy to undress and a gown or towel will be provided. You can ask a friend or relative to accompany you and be present throughout your treatment.

The Examination

The examination will involve looking at any areas of concern such as the back or neck, etc, and checking your posture and mobility.  You will be asked to do some simple stretches and movements so that any limitations can be noted. Your osteopath may also carry out a number of medical tests, such as reflexes. This will help the osteopath to make a more accurate diagnosis.


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After the examination your osteopath will make an assessment of your condition, explain the type of treatment that will help to decrease your symptoms, and discuss a treatment plan with you.   The osteopath will then commence treatment.

Treatment techniques that may be used during a consultation include gentle, non-invasive applications such as deep tissue massage, joint articulation and manipulation. Where techniques are undertaken, your osteopath will always ask for your consent in advance.

You may also be given advice which will compliment your osteopathic treatment eg exercise, diet, posture at work, applying hot or cold packs, etc.

Manipulation of Joints

Patients are sometimes concerned about the clicking sounds made by joints during joint manipulation. There is no need to worry as research has shown it to be a safe technique to improve joint range of movement and relieve pain.  The clicking noise is down to the ‘popping’ of small bubbles of nitrogen gas that form during the rapid joint opening movement carefully applied by the practitioner. This movement produces a vacuum in the joint space, which is immediately filled by nitrogen gas that comes out of solution from the synovial fluid. The ‘pop’ occurs when the gas bubble implodes sending the nitrogen back into solution

Is the Treatment Painful?

Treatment is generally painless but certain techniques may cause some discomfort.  Your osteopath will keep you informed of what to expect during treatment and will advise if you are likely to feel any discomfort and they will stop if you feel pain or are not comfortable with the treatment.

Because of the physical nature of the treatment, it is not unusual to sometimes feel sore for a day or so after treatment. Your osteopath will explain any likely reactions that you could expect. If you have any concerns it is important to contact the osteopath and ask their advice.  Any discomfort can usually be relieved with an over the counter pain killer and will go away within 48 hours.

Referral to GP or Hospital

You may be referred for further investigations such as x-rays or blood tests. The osteopath will also check for signs of conditions that they may not be able to treat and may advise you to seek other medical assistance such as going to your GP or to hospital.  In this case, we would provide you with a letter explaining the situation.

Ongoing care

Some patients need only one appointment; others may have a course of treatments. Normally the treatment of a patient is determined according to their progression rather than the prescription of a set number of treatments.  The number of treatments required will be influenced by a number of factors such as the type of injury, your general health, and so on.  The osteopath will review your progress at each subsequent visit and amend their care accordingly.

Maintenance Visits

Osteopaths deal with a lot of wear and tear that our bodies go through in our lives, and we actually find many of our patients choose to visit us regularly, one even described it as their ‘MOT for the body’!

Prevention is a big part of Osteopathy and this kind of regular maintenance helps to avoid potential issues caused by the bad habits we get into from poor posture and body mechanics.


After your treatment if you wish to express any concerns do not hesitate to do so to your osteopath or to the practice manager. The staff will do their best to put you at ease so that you can gain the maximum benefit from your treatment.

For further information call our osteopathy team on Tel: 020 8977 3295


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