What Is Osteopathy?

Hong Kong osteopath

Our osteopaths work to help relieve pain, restore function, promote healing and support your overall health and movement for life. We do this by using hands-on techniques to get down to the root causes of injuries, pain and dysfunction within the body, far beyond your immediate symptoms. Osteopathy has great benefits for pain or dysfunction across any of the joints or musculature. Here’s a deeper look into what we do, the underlying principles of osteopathy, and what you can expect from an appointment with one of our osteopaths.

What Is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a form of manual (hands-on) medicine that recognises that the body is a powerful and cohesive unit, where nothing works in isolation. This means that when something goes wrong and pain is brought to the forefront, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that needs to be addressed in order to achieve long-lasting healing and symptom relief.

One of the key underlying principles that guides our practice as osteopaths is that the body is incredibly well-designed, co-ordinated and built to heal and repair itself when things go wrong. Just think about all of the intricate body systems and processes that are always switched on and working to keep us going without us ever having to think about them. Unfortunately, life can be stressful, and we often put great demands on our bodies that can interfere with their ability to repair and calibrate efficiently.

Whether we push ourselves too hard during sport, repetitively crane our necks down to look at a screen at work, or even experience the strains of pregnancy - in any scenario, your body will inherently do its best to heal itself, but when it can’t, it will compensate by following less-than-ideal pathways that are found in the way we move, function, and the structure of our body, thus predisposing us to pain and injury. This is where osteopathy comes in to focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs are all functioning together, and locating the dysfunction that is blocking the body from effective healing and regulation.

What makes osteopathy different is that instead of our primary focus being managing your symptoms for only short-term benefits, we know that it’s by working on these underlying imbalances within the body that allows you to get long-term symptom relief by rebuilding strong foundations so you can better withstand and respond to any stresses or problems that arise in the future.

What Can Osteopathy Help With?

The techniques we use can help with a range of problems and pains by correcting and improving alignment within the body, freeing up restricted joints, relaxing tight or tense muscles, helping reduce swelling, improving blood flow, reducing pressure on nerves and generally helping injuries to heal faster. Clients often see us for:

  • Low back pain. We help with both acute low back pain, where symptoms have started within the past six weeks, as well as chronic back pain, where symptoms have been persisting for months - or even years. Low back is comparable to a stomach ache in that the causes can be very diverse, from imbalances in the muscles that attach to the spine, to the effects of a previous shoulder injury, to a small difference in the length of your legs.
  • Neck pain. The impact of neck problems aren’t limited to pain when moving your neck - it can lead to headaches or migraines, arm or shoulder pain, and much more. We help manage neck problems in everyone from adults to children to infants post-birth that have a one-sided neck preference (torticollis).
  • Sports injuries. Whether your injury is from overuse where the body is overloaded and strained repetitively, or from trauma (such a a collision during sports), we help treat a range of sport-related injuries including muscle, tendon or ligament strains or sprains, as well as injuries to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip or groin, knee, ankle and foot. Here, we will work to help treat your injury while also looking to the areas beyond the injury to help improve the blood flow, drainage and flexibility to the area so you stay better supported as you return to sports.
  • Sciatica. Sciatica can be triggered by anything that irritates the sciatic nerve that originates in your spinal cord in your lower back, and travels down your legs and to your feet. We’ll look at areas of the body that are imbalanced that may be irritating or compressing the sciatic nerve, helping to ‘free up’ the body and restore a more balanced, natural alignment and function to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Breathlessness. Disordered breathing often involves uncovering and managing a mechanical issue related to a lack of mobility in the chest, rib cage, spine, or the muscles responsible for breathing and posture. Addressing this means we get far wider-reaching benefits to your body, given that breathing and the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues affects everything from the way we move and think to our posture, metabolism, the chemical processes happening in our body - and much more.
  • Maternity care. From the effects of pregnancy on the body, to helping support the body to recover and heal following delivery (whether surgical or vaginal), we work with new and expectant mothers in a way that safely and gently, yet powerfully supports their body’s optimal intended function and well-being throughout the changes to grow a baby and then recover and repair following childbirth.
  • Infant and children's osteopathy. The effects of the birthing process is often talked about from the side of the mother, but it’s also an intense experience for a baby that goes through hours of pressure, twisting and turning to enter the world. This can lead to notable strains and stresses that can interfere with the baby’s ability to feed, sleep, tolerate lying in different positions and more. Here, we use very soft and gentle techniques to help babies get off to the best start in life, and also work with children to support their bodies as they grow and develop.
  • Migraines and headaches. In many cases, that throbbing or pounding that you experience as a headache actually originates from the neck, as well as from potential eye strain, stress, poor posture, dehydration, jaw misalignment (for example, after dental work), sinus infections and more. Here, we focus on joint mobility, particularly at the cervical spine (neck), as well as reducing muscle tension and improving blood supply and drainage to and from the head and neck.

Osteopathy For Tennis Elbow

Our osteopath, Oliver, also works extensively with those suffering from tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as specialising in sports injuries, repetitive strain injuries, sciatica, shoulder dysfunction, headaches/migraines, whiplash and more. You can read more about osteopathy at PhysioCentral here.

Signs To Book In With An Osteopath

We often get asked how you know that it’s time to book in with an osteopath. Signs that booking an appointment with an osteopath could be beneficial for you include:

  • Experiencing pain or dysfunction in the body
  • Having pain that continues returning (indicating that the underlying causes have not been addressed)
  • Having pain and discomfort that occurs without a specific cause (like waking up with pain but not having had an accident during sports the day prior)
  • Not getting the results from your injury recovery that you want or expect
  • You’ve been advised by others to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to your pain or injury and you’re stuck not making progress

What Does An Osteopathy Appointment Look Like?

Your appointment with an osteopath here at PhysioCentral starts with getting to know you, your symptoms and injury history, your lifestyle and goals, and a range of other factors that we’ll go through. It’s important for us to get an in-depth understanding of what has been going on to lead you to be here, as these insights will help tailor your management plan. Next, we’ll complete an assessment where we examine a range of factors from your posture to the range of motion available through your joints to palpating specific areas of the body. We do this to identify areas of tension, restriction and imbalance so we can address these and better understand the underlying issues that may be contributing to your symptoms.

We’ll discuss the findings with you, including the best ways to help mobilise and support your body. We may use techniques like soft tissue manipulations, joint mobilisations and cranial osteopathy, to help with restoring alignment and optimising the body’s systems and processes. A session with us typically lasts 45 minutes, and immediately after your hands-on work is complete, many people already experience a notable positive difference - whether that’s a reduction in pain, feeling lighter or taller, having an improvement in their posture, or something else. To finish off, we may run through some specific exercises you can do at home to best support your goals and the work we did during your appointment, as well as discuss any lifestyle or ergonomic factors and modifications that can be made to help support your recovery and prevent future injuries.

What Should I Bring To My Appointment With An Osteopath?

Non-restrictive clothing, like gym shorts and a t-shirt, is always best if possible. Please bring any information relating to your problem from other health professionals you have seen, the results of x-rays or other tests, a list of your regular medications, and any other relevant health information.

Booking An Osteopathy Appointment

To book an appointment with our team, just give us a call on +852 2801 4810 or book your appointment online here. Our fantastic osteopath, Oliver, has worked across the world with everyone from farmers to teachers to professional athletes, and holds his Masters degree. He is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and is also a NASM-certified personal training, bringing even more insights and skills to your appointment.