Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the naturopathic principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, fascia, nerves, ligaments, tendons, internal organs and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

Osteopathy is a healthcare profession that utilises a patient focused, physical approach to restoring, maintaining and promoting physical and psychosocial well being. 

Although osteopaths treat many conditions (see  below), most people think of us as ‘back specialists’. Back pain is what many osteopaths treat much of the time. Osteopathic treatment does not only target symptoms but treats the parts of the body that have caused the symptoms.

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well. Imagine, for example, a car that has one of its front wheels not quite pointing straight. It may run well for a while, but after a few thousand miles, the tyre will wear out. You can apply this example to the human body, which is why it is so important to keep the body in good balance.

So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.  Osteopaths use a wide range of techniques, including highly specific massage and stretching, cranial techniques (sometimes referred to as 'cranial osteopathy') and joint manipulation and mobilization to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own innate healing mechanisms. This breadth of approach allows us to focus on every patient’s precise and unique needs.

Osteopathy may be able to help with the following conditions:

Generalised aches and pains, joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core OA treatments and excercise, arthritic pain, general, acute and chronic backache, uncomplicated mechanical neck pain, headaches arising from the neck (cervicogenic), migraine prevention, frozen shoulder, shoulder and elbow pain, tennis elbow arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, circulatory problems, cramp, digestive problems, joint pains, lumbago, sciatica, muscle spasms, neuralgia, fibromyalgia, inability to relax, rheumatic pain and minor sports injuries and tensions.   

Osteopathy therefore forms a vital part of naturopathic health providing in addition advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery and rehabilitation, promote health and to help prevent symptoms recurring.

For more information please visit the Institute of Osteopathy (IO) website

We have also listed here some of our feedback that you may be helpful.

Who and what do osteopaths see in clinic?

Osteopaths’ assess and treat people of any age. Patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people. Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, hand, elbow and shoulder pain, hip, knee, and ankle pain, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries.

However, patients have found osteopathy helpful for many other conditions. If you want to find out more, please call the clinic and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

What to expect if you have not seen an osteopath before

Before we start to treat you, we will make a full medical assessment. We take time to listen to you and ask questions to make sure we understand your medical history and your day-to-day routine. We’ll ask you about things like diet, exercise and what is happening in your life, as these may give clues to help our diagnosis. 
We may feel your pulse and check your reflexes. We may also take your blood pressure and refer you for clinical tests, such as x-rays, if we think you need them.

Your posture 
We usually look at your posture and how you move your body. We may also assess what happens when we move it for you and see what hurts, and where and when it hurts.

Trouble areas 
Using touch and palpation we may also find the areas which are sensitive or tight and this helps us to identify what’s going on.  When we have done this we can diagnose your condition. We may sometimes feel that osteopathy is not appropriate for you and so will refer you to your GP or another specialist such as an orthopaedic surgeon for further tests.

Your treatment 
Osteopaths use a wide range of gentle manipulations, depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. 

Treatment is different for every patient but may include techniques such as different types of soft tissue massage and joint articulation to release tension, stretch muscles, help relieve pain and mobilise your joints. 

Sometimes, when we move joints you may hear a ‘click’. This is just like the click people get when they crack their knuckles.

We may discuss exercises that you can do to improve your posture and movement in your workplace and everyday life.


What should I wear? 
As with any medical examination, you will probably be asked to undress to your underwear, so please wear something you are comfortable in.

Can I bring a friend or relative? 
Yes – if you wish, you can have someone present throughout your consultation and treatment.

Does it hurt? 
Some soft tissue treatment may cause discomfort during treatment. Your osteopath will tell you what to expect, and will want you to let them know if you are in pain.  You may feel a little stiff or sore after treatment. This is a normal, healthy response to the treatment.

Do I need to see my doctor first? 
You do not need to see your doctor first if you are paying for your own treatment. Osteopathy is available on the NHS in some areas – and national guidelines say it should be available everywhere for low back pain.

How much does treatment cost? 
Here at the Plymouth Naturopathic Clinic we charge £45 for the first consultation and treatment which is always scheduled for 11/hours but may take less time depending on your needs and the complexity of the presenting condition(s).  Follow up appointments are £45 and are scheduled for 60 minutes but again may take less time depending on what treatment is required. Please follow this link to view our Fees section and infomation about the clinic's deposit system.

How many treatments will I need? 
The number of treatments you need depends on the condition and person. We aim to keep your appointments to a minimum. We will be able to tell you within a short period of time whether we can treat you or if we will need to refer you to someone else.

Professionalism and Safety

To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. The British Medical Association’s guidance for general practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.

Regulation of osteopathy and complaints about an osteopath

All osteopaths in the UK are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). If you have a complaint about your osteopath please follw this link

Osteopaths are required to renew their registration each year and GOsC provide registrants with an annual license to practise. As part of this process, the GOsC checks that osteopaths have current professional indemnity insurance, remain in good health, are of good character, and have met mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) requirements.

Protection of title

The title 'osteopath' is protected by law. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC, which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety. The GOsC can, and will, prosecute individuals who practise as osteopaths when they are not on the GOsC Register. For information about what to do if you think someone is practising as an osteopath but is not on the Register please contact the GOsC.

Further information

See Osteopathy in practice to learn more about the profession. You can also download information leaflets What to expect from your osteopath and Standards of osteopathic care from the GOsC website via these links.


And as always if you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch via the contacts section