Treatment Modalities

An osteopath has many treatment options available to ensure your treatment is specific and effective for you. This page gives a brief explanation of those options (choose below), but if you have any questions about treatment and what to expect, then please get in touch.

You can also find answers to specific questions in our FAQs section.

Osteopathy manipulation

Manipulation Techniques

Manipulation in osteopathy covers a large range of techniques. These centre around manipulating joints and tissue to correct restrictions in range of motion. In simple terms, when you get pain, for example in a joint and/or surrounding tissue, then there is something wrong. When the body is injured, it tries to repair itself and that leads to many symptoms including the build up of various chemicals around the site of injury. This can cause your range of movement to become restricted as the body tries to fix things. Often this leads to a change in movement, so though your pain may be in one area, the cause may be somewhere else. One of the keys to osteopathic treatment is the idea that tightness and restriction in your nerves and muscles can be caused by or lead to other problems.

Osteopaths are extensively trained to use their hands to gently move your joints and tissues to correct any restrictions in your range of motion. By performing targeted manipulations (and in combination with other treatments noted on this page), many patients are able to move or exercise more easily, experience less pain, breathe better, see improvements in sleep quality, and go about normal day-to-day activities with less interference from symptoms.

Manipulation in osteopathy

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasound therapy is the use of sound waves to treat musculoskeletal problems. Ultrasonic waves or sound waves of a high frequency that is not audible to the human ear are produced by means of mechanical vibration in the metal treatment head of the ultrasound machine. The high-frequency sound waves travel deep within the body tissues and generate heat and vibration to treat selected medical conditions such as pain, muscle spasms and joint contractures and inflammation. This is a very safe and pain-free method.

To allow the sound waves to pass from the treatment head, a water-soluble gel is applied. The treatment head is moved continuously over the surface of the skin in the region of the injury transmitting the energy into the tissues, for approximately 3-5 minutes. Ultrasound dosage can be varied either in intensity or frequency of the ultrasound beam according to the type and location of injury.

Osteopathic ultrasound

Western Acupuncture (dry needling)

What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a unique procedure intended to specifically target and restore muscle function, with an emphasis on improving tissue healing and restoring normal tissue function. This is important as continued activity with poor muscle function may lead to further tissue damage and increased pain. Dry Needling involves inserting a very thin needle without injection. “Dry needling” is another name for western medical acupuncture. In treatment, a needle is inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point (MTP). A trigger point is point in the muscle associated with a ‘knot’. This is an area that has become painful and can radiate pain in predictable patterns.

How does it work?
When combined with conventional treatment options, dry needling can be an influential method to accelerate pain reduction, healing and the restoration of normal tissue function. The exact mechanisms of dry needling are complex and not fully known. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the positive effect inserting a needle has on the electrical and chemical communications that take place in our nervous system. These include inhibiting the transmission of pain signals in our spinal cord and increasing the release of our own pain relieving chemicals within our brains. The pain relieving effect of dry needling is gaining strong support in mainstream Western medicine, with public hospital systems now directly funding its use.

Does it hurt?
A healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of this needle. However, if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the subject will feel a sensation like a muscle cramp (the “twitch” response). This is perfectly normal.

What is the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture?
Unlike acupuncture, the objectives and research behind the use of dry needling by physical therapists is not based on ancient theories or teachings of traditional Chinese medicine. The performance of modern dry needling by physical therapists is based on Western Neuroanatomy and modern scientific study of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Both Dry Needling and Acupuncture do, however, use a solid needle filament.

Osteopathy dry needling acupuncture

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage works deep into the muscles and tissues to help relieve tension and help relieve muscular pain. It is very effective in treating chronic aches and pains, including areas of the body which have contracted because of long-term tension in the body, for example, leg muscles, shoulder muscles and the back.

Deep tissue massage by an osteopath is very similar to Swedish massage because therapists must warm up and relax the superficial muscles first. They will then use finger, knuckle, forearm or elbow pressure and slow, firm strokes which focus on the deeper muscles, tendons and tissues.

Massaging deeper muscles and tissues may sometimes feel uncomfortable or even painful and you can expect the areas worked on to be sore for a couple of days afterwards. During deep tissue massage, your feedback and comfort is very important. No two people are the same and the pressure of the massage is completely guided by your feedback.

The benefits of deep tissue massage include stress and pain relief, ease of movement and it helps recovery from mechanical injury.

Osteopathy Treatment Plans


Stretching can be incorporated into your treatment plan in 2 different ways.

As an osteopath, I may treat tight and sore muscles or trigger points by using stretching techniques. These work by stretching and engaging the muscle which allows the muscle to reset to the correct tension. This is also known as muscle energy technique (MET). This is a gentle method which can improve range of movement and reduce muscle discomfort.

You may also be given advice on Incorporating stretching into your daily activities. Stretching is a natural activity that often occurs instinctively, e.g. when we first wake up in the morning or after a long period of inactivity. The importance of stretching before and after exercise, is well known. However, with the increasingly sedentary lifestyles we lead, I believe stretching has a place in everyday life to try and avoid the build up of muscle knots or trigger points. A few simple stretches every day can make a big difference.

What is Osteopathy
Osteopath stretching a leg