Osteopathy uses movement, stretching and other manual techniques to relax your muscles, loosen up the joints and encourage your body to heal itself.
Malta has seen its first registered osteopath in 2012. Since then, patients seen by an osteopath and experiencing benefit have soared well in their thousands.
Dealing with patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, as well as with varying conditions mostly related to back, neck pain and musculoskeletal issues, Osteopaths in Europe train in primary practice, which means that they deal with patients coming straight into their office. An osteopath, therefore, is not limited to using techniques only, but to examine, assess, and formulate a diagnosis. They may often cross refer to other healthcare professionals, advise further studies and provide lifestyle advice.
At times considered a ‘branch’ of osteopathy, is at times used as part of osteopathic treatment. Some patients however may benefit from a dedicated session for cranial work, especially those who have experienced benefit in the past. This is a very subtle but powerful treatment option particularly suited for newborns and infants, as palliative care and those suffering from chronic pain.
Osteopaths train in manipulation of the whole body, not just spine and joints. Many osteopaths continue further training in visceral techniques, which are particularly useful when managing scar tissue, as well as digestive issues. Talk to an osteopath to discuss how we could help with any ongoing digestive issues.
Osteopathy treats the person, not the condition. Often we get asked whether we treat a particular condition. The world of Medicine has been subdivided into many specialisations – and whilst this may be positive in getting the focus on the particular ailment right, it may come with some disadvantages as we sometimes fail to see the person as a whole and fail to integrate all systems together.
Osteopathy plays a lot of emphasis on getting to know the person we are treating, and attempts to coin all the pieces together for an effective treatment plan. This is by far not an easy task, and referral to a specialist is sometimes necessary, however all efforts are made to treat the person, and not just the condition being presented. For this reason, rather than outlining the typical conditions we treat, the following subsections are a selection of type of patients we encounter, each with their little challenges that we strive to understand:
Pregnancy involves a number of changes in the body, both structural and hormonal, in order to prepare the woman’s body for labour and to ensure healthy gestation of the unborn child.
Certain issues may arise from these changes, such as lower back pain, pubic symphysis dysfunction, mid-back pain, headaches and stress incontinence.
Osteopaths may play a very important role in helping the expectant mother understand these conditions, treating them when appropriate, and advise on strategies to keep comfortable and healthy during this important stage in one’s life.
It is important to have your baby checked and assessed by a qualified paediatrician who should be your point of reference for any concerns you may have. Osteopathy may also be helpful as an adjunct to this ongoing care and may provide a supportive role in the overall well-being of your child.
Techniques are extremely gentle and may be particularly helpful in the management of unsettled babies.
Sport is a great way to keep active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whether it is team sport or individual sport, it helps bond people together in a healthy environment. Many can be put off by too many injuries, which are often caused by poor training techniques and biomechanical issues. Osteopathy will not only treat the problem area, but will also look at the whole body and aim to localise the root cause of the problems. They may advise on diet, training modification, as well as offer hand on treatment to correct areas of decreased mobility and thereby improve function.
Problems such as Achilles tendonitis, iliiotibial band friction syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, piriformis syndrome and shoulder rotator cuff tendonitiswhich are mostly a result of overuse and are generally preventable, are just a few of the conditions which osteopaths encounter on a daily basis.
In Osteopathy we ensure that the structural abnormalities possibly leading to the injuries are corrected, thereby reducing the likelihood of them recurring – a very important aspect when aiming to perform better in sport.
Both Anne Söffken and Robert Grech are trained in Kinesio Taping Methods and may use taping as part of the overall treatment.
Since in osteopathy there is focus on all body systems, including emotional states and wellbeing, the elderly individual is often helped overcome situations where they may have perhaps been previously classified as ‘untreatable’ or ‘having to live with’ their present condition. Whilst there is very little one can do to reverse degenerative or arthritic changes in the body, gentle mobilisation as well as advice, may help the person regain their confidence and ease pain in areas where movement was restricted.
Osteopaths are very aware of potential side effects of manipulation, and therefore carefully select techniques to suit the particular individual.
‘Evidence based medicine’ has made it a necessity to undergo clinical trials based on various conditions. Through research over the years, Osteopathy has been shown to be helpful in the following conditions:
- Mechanical lower back pain
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Rib dysfunction (causing pain in the chest region)
- Certain types of headaches
- Posture related neck and upper back pain
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Foot and ankle pain
- Tennis elbow
- Shoulder impingement / rotator cuff strain
- Pregnancy – related lower back pain and symphysis pubis dysfunction
- Hip pain
For further information and clinical evidence on the efficacy of Osteopathy, click on the banner below to access the National Council for Osteopathic Research (UK) website:
What to expect from us
Here’s an overview of our process, from your first appointment through to the end of your treatment.
Your osteopath will start by asking you questions about your condition. They’ll also ask about your general health and medical history, including whether you’ve had operations or are taking medication. Some details may seem irrelevant to your condition, but it’s important to be as thorough as possible.
Based on your history, your osteopath will perform a routine check up to make sure you can be treated safely. These tests may include monitoring your blood pressure. Your osteopath may advise you to see your GP for more tests if there are any concerns.
Palpatory & Visual Assessment
Your osteopath will visually examine your posture and general alignment and use touch to detect areas of tension, warmth (which could mean inflammation) and other clues to your condition. You may need to partially undress for this (we can provide a chaperone on request).
Our examination includes special tests, such as orthopaedic exercises and reflex testing, which we use to arrive at a working diagnosis. You may recognise many of these tests from past experiences at your GP’s office.
We place a lot of emphasis on making sure you understand exactly what’s going on every step of the way. We’ll walk you through your working diagnosis and our proposed treatment plan in detail before we proceed.
This depends on your general health and the nature of your condition. In some situations, we may also treat areas other than your problem region in order to restore your body’s natural balance.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
No. Your osteopath will make sure they can help you before they start any treatment. They’ll also refer you for further examinations or to another healthcare professional if necessary. Your osteopath won’t treat you unless they’re sure of the diagnosis. That said, it’s always a good idea to discuss health issues and concerns with your GP.
You’ll need a doctor’s referral if you’re paying for treatment through your health insurance.
Most osteopaths in Europe train for four to five years. They usually graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree or a Masters degree (M. Ost.). Some Osteopaths choose to study further in order to increase their knowledge about an area of interest, to contribute to research or to teach.
No. Osteopathy is a separate system of manual medicine, distinct from other healthcare professions.
No. Osteopathy and physiotherapy are different professions. In Europe, some professionals are qualified in both. However, they usually choose to practice only one of them.
No. Osteopaths have a very thorough knowledge of bones, joints and ligaments, but they don’t focus on one area of the body. They look at the big picture. In other words, they look at your mind, bones, muscles, ligaments and organs and how they interact. This is why osteopathic treatment can be very helpful in conditions that affect your skeleton and muscles.
Osteopaths try to be as gentle as possible while treating patients. And they constantly ask for feedback to make sure you’re comfortable. You may experience some discomfort when your osteopath is working on a problematic area. However, this is usually very tolerable. Some soreness after a session is normal, and should get better after 48 hours.