Osteopathic Treatment

When it’s used

Most people who see an osteopath do so for help with conditions that affect the muscles, bones and joints, such as:

  • Lower back
  • Uncomplicated
    neck pain (as opposed to neck pain after an injury such as whiplash)
  • Shoulder
    pain and elbow pain (for example, tennis elbow)
  • Arthritis
  • problems
    with the pelvis, hips and legs
  • Sports
  • Muscle and
    joint pain associated with driving, work or pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, make sure you seek advice from a GP or midwife about your
symptoms before you see an osteopath. You should also make sure you see an
osteopath who specializes in muscle or joint pain during pregnancy.

Effectiveness of osteopathy

Most research into techniques used in osteopathy tends to focus on general “manual therapy” techniques, such as spinal manipulation. 

Manual therapy techniques are used by physiotherapists and chiropractors, as well as osteopaths.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on managing lower back pain and sciatica recommend manual therapy alongside exercise as a treatment option.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on managing lower back pain and 

also recommends manual therapy as a possible treatment option for osteoarthritis, although osteopathy is not specifically mentioned.

There’s some evidence to suggest that osteopathy may be effective for some types of neck, shoulder or lower-limb pain, some types of headache, and recovery after hip or knee operations.

There’s only limited or no scientific evidence that it’s an effective treatment for
conditions unrelated to the bones and muscles (musculoskeletal system), including:

  • Asthma
  • Period
  • Digestive
  • Depression
  • Excessive
    crying in babies (colic)
  • Glue ear
  • Problems
    affecting the jaw (temporomandibular disorder)
  • Abnormal
    curvature of the spine (scoliosis)

Accessing osteopathy

Osteopathy is available in some areas on the NHS. Your GP or local integrated care board (ICB) should be able to tell you whether it’s available in your area.

Most people pay for osteopathy treatment privately. Treatment costs vary, but typically range from £40 to £55 for a 30- to 40-minute session.

You do not need to be referred by your GP to see an osteopath privately. Most private
health insurance providers also provide cover for osteopathic treatment.

Only people registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) are allowed to
practise as or call themselves osteopaths.