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Osteopathy is similar to chiropractic in that professionals identify, diagnose and treat problems associated with musculoskeletal function, although the focus is on the whole body as opposed to chiropractic which deals more with the spinal column and the surrounding muscles.
As with all complementary practices, osteopathy does not rely on the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopaths will use a range of techniques such as spinal adjustment, massages, stretching, manipulation and the application of pressure to certain points to treat symptoms, which may include back pain, reduced blood flow to certain areas or limited mobility.
Osteopaths might be self-employed professionals or will work as employed associates at private clinics or hospitals. Some will travel to visit patients in their homes.
Typically, osteopaths will discuss health issues, medical history and the reasons the patient has for choosing osteopathy. They will perform any necessary physical examinations on the patient, including x-rays, before devising the best treatment strategy.
They advise patients on ways to maintain good health through exercise and nutrition.
Osteopaths often work alongside other medical professionals in the fields of both complementary and conventional healthcare such as chiropractors, doctors and therapists. Doctors will sometimes refer to patients to osteopaths if they believe that they will benefit from osteopathy more than conventional methods of treatment such as medication or surgery in extreme cases.
As is the case for all healthcare professionals, keeping patients relaxed and comfortable should be a top priority, along with maintaining extremely high standards of cleanliness throughout the clinic.