Wellness Wednesday – My First Trip to the Osteopath

Wellness Wednesday – My First Trip to the Osteopath

This is a new series of posts I intend to share with you a couple of times a month, on Wednesdays! In them I will share some of my health issues but also talk about general health and wellbeing. If you have any health issues you want me to talk about why not leave me a comment below, send me a message on Facebook or tweet me @biteablebeauty. Look forward to hearing from you!

The Difference Between Osteopaths and Chiropractors

So, Biteable Beauties, I recently went to an osteopath for the first time ever! Despite having had back/shoulder issues for several years, which have gradually worsened to the point where more or less every day I have some discomfort or pain, today was the first time I ever paid a visit to somebody about it. I was asked recently what the difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath was, so I thought I would share my answer – which I since extended upon as I was intrigued by what exactly the difference was. My initial response was chiropractors work more around the back than osteopaths (oo-er!)

In many countries, osteopaths and chiropractors are governed by the same organisation or body. Both take an holistic approach to the human form but where they differ is their approach to treating conditions. Chiropractors tend to focus on the spine and repositioning of the surrounding muscles, therefore readjusting the nervous system which runs from the spine. The world of osteopathy however is based around two reasonings. First, that “the artery rules supreme”; this basically means that healthy blood flow will support and promote a healthy body; and secondly that “structure governs function”; in other words the body is built a certain way and if the body loses this structure then it is not going to function at full capacity. Osteopaths use various techniques to treat ailments, as I discovered in my appointment.

Highgate Osteopathic & Shoulder Clinic

Mr BB recommended and booked me into Highgate Osteopathic & Shoulder Clinic (I fear because he’s getting fed up of having to massage my aches and pains away almost every day!) I felt at ease when I was greeted in reception and introduced to my osteopath Stephen Sacks. Partly because of the friendly way of both him and the receptionist, and partly due to the fact that I know the practice comes highly recommended by family. As Stephen guided me to the treatment room he double checked I was OK going up the stairs, which was sweet. I’m not sure if my slight limp from a hamstring strain at softball a few nights previous was noticeable or if it was just his caring nature! After I’d taken a seat we began the consultation in which I outlined my ailments – primary and secondary concerns. Primary concerns were my right shoulder which over time has become more painful and much less mobile, and my neck. Other concerns were my back in general (although after losing weight and getting active this has been considerably better), my hamstring in its current condition, and my left hip abductors, which are considerably less flexible than the right set.

Next, Stephen assessed what was happening with my body whilst I was standing, before asking me to sit down so he could have a closer look and feel of my right shoulder. He identified two problem areas in the shoulder. The first one was my supraspinatus, one of the shoulder rotator muscles, and the second was my trapezius. This was ascertained by a combination of touching, manipulation and placing three needles in a row in both muscles. What followed next was something rather remarkable and one of the strangest sensations I have ever experienced. Stephen used needles again but this time they were inserted deeper into the muscle tissue. He then proceeded to seek out the knots in my supraspinatus with the needle! I can’t quite describe how this felt. Personally I didn’t find it painful or uncomfortable, I suppose the closest sensation it comes to is an electric shock. After carrying this out in my supraspinatus it was time to give my trapezius the same treatment. Stephen did warn me that some people found this super-painful, adding that the people who liked this treatment the least were older men and young women with tattoos. I didn’t probe why but maybe I should have- I’ll be sure to ask at my next session. I found the treatment in the trapezius much more intense but still not painful. Stephen pointed out that there were many more knots in my trapezius than in my supraspinatus but I could have told him this from all the mini tremours I experienced!

As the treatment continued we got talking about my profession and of course Biteable Beauty came up. I told Stephen that I would probably be writing about him in the health section because this session was something new and different for me. As we came to addressing the issues in my neck, he asked if I’d heard of “beauty parlour syndrome”, to which I replied that I had not. Stephen explained that when you go to the hair salon and have our hair washed at the basin there is a slight chance that due to blood being restricted to the brain there is a miniscule chance of a stroke occurring, and that what he was about to do to my neck was much less risky! As it was the first time I’d had the treatment Stephen also spoke and guided me through it like a dress rehearsal before double checking I was completely sure I wanted to go ahead with the wobble and jerk method. I did, and sure enough something in my neck popped back into place.

Next up, my legs and hips. First we looked at the flexibility of my hip abductors and observed my positioning in a hip raise from either end of the couch, concluding that the left was lower than the right. Then Stephen assessed my leg lengths by rubbing my feet together and we concluded that the left was shorter than the right. To address this there was some manipulation and rocking of the hip area with me lying on either side. When I returned to laying on my back we checked the movement of my hip abductors and whilst there was no doubt the left hip was still tighter, the splayedness was certainly more even. As I went into the hip raise it was apparent that both hips were  more or less the same height now, and miraculously my legs were more even in length! I’m not going to say they were exactly the same length, as I believe everybody has slight differences in leg length.

Finally, we revisited my right shoulder area to ascertain how it had reacted to treatment. This involved moving my arm from by my side to by my ear in an arc and assessing where the muscles got stuck and where I experienced pain or discomfort. There was also some slight massage and manipulation during this, which moved the pain between different points. Stephen diagnosed a painful shoulder arc which was being caused by the two aforementioned muscles, the supraspinatus and trapezius. Tendonitis of the supraspinatus is causing the muscle to catch underneath the rotator cuff, whilst the trapezius is under stress with lots of knots in it – although fewer since the needles got stuck in and did their business!

Stephen recommended I come back in a week or two to iron out the issues and believed that would do me for now – I would not need regular treatment. He also hoped to get inside my hip abductors and help get the left leg to where the right leg is in terms of flexibility – then I can resume my training to become a proper yoga bunny! I’ll let you know how the second session goes (it’s tomorrow), but since this session my shoulder has been significantly more mobile and less painful.

One session at Highgate Osteopathic & Shoulder Clinic is £50

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