Interview with our Head of Practice (Osteopath)
Stuart Walker (Registered Osteopath) took over the practice in Stanley Road, Teddington from Janet Bell in 2012 and is also currently a tutor at the British School Of Osteopathy in London.
How long have you been an osteopath?
I graduated from the British School of Osteopathy in 2006 following 5 years of training. So next year will be my 10th year in practice.
What is the best thing about being an osteopath?
When I was training I thought it would be treating elite sports people, however, my favourite part of the job is being able to meet and build relationships with all manner of folk from all walks of life. I feel very privileged to be able to get to know them and, hopefully, make a difference to their lives.
What are the most common conditions that you treat?
I see a lot of low back problems, but also, increasingly, neck and shoulder problems from PC, laptop and smartphone use. However, each day can bring something new from repetitive strain injuries to knee pain, and so on.
Is prevention better than cure? How important is it for patients to have regular maintenance treatments?
In an ideal world we would all be able to prevent ourselves from suffering from musculoskeletal pain by correct posture, exercise and stretching. Unfortunately this is not always possible as we are all very busy and life tends to get in the way. Many patients have found a maintenance-type approach to be beneficial, the rationale being that it helps to prevent joint and muscle dysfunctions from building up until they become painful and disabling.
Do you treat sports injuries?
I do indeed; I see people who participate in many different sports and at all levels, from the Bushy parkrun runners to the high level performers.
What is the difference between Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Physiotherapy?
This is one of the most common questions that we get asked. All three disciplines treat similar types of conditions, largely musculoskeletal injuries and complaints.
In simple terms, osteopaths combine elements of both the other disciplines. We tend to take a more ‘holistic’ approach, stepping back to look at the ‘big picture’. We don’t just deal with injuries but also ongoing postural and mechanical problems people have. We consider both local tissue damage and whole body mechanics at the same time. Factors such as age, occupation, exercise and lifestyle are incorporated to ensure the ‘best-fit’ to restoring health. Treatments are typically 30 minutes and involve soft-tissue massage and articulation, as well as joint manipulation.
Cranial osteopathy is a speciality that focuses on a very gentle approach to restoring correct alignment and balance within tissues. It is particularly suitable for babies and children.
Traditionally, physiotherapists work with injuries and rehabilitation, mainly dealing with muscles and ligaments. Treatments combine ‘hands-on’ muscle manipulation work with the use of technical equipment (such as ultrasound), plus exercise prescription. Chiropractors mostly focus on spinal mechanics and aim to push patients towards what they consider an ‘ideal spinal posture’. This may include taking x-rays and using machines. Treatments are usually short (typically 15 minutes) and generally focus on spinal manipulation only (the cracking/clicking of joints).
Finally, tell us something that very few people know about osteopathy
Osteopathy was first formulated by Andrew Taylor Still in frontier USA in the 1870s. He was a tractor mechanic, surgeon, physician, travelling preacher and general all-rounder who felt that there must be a better way to treat disease and dysfunction than through opium, alcohol and mercury, which were the medicines available at the time. These were just as likely to kill you as the illness, especially the mercury.
If you would like any further information or to make an appointment to see Stuart or any other member of the team at Teddington Osteopaths, please contact us on 020 8977 3295.
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