Back pain guide

Back pain guide

Explore this guide for information about different types of back pain, ways of preventing it and advice on treatment

Osteopathy is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.

Osteopathy is based on the principle that the wellbeing of an individual depends on their bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue functioning smoothly together. Osteopaths believe their treatments allow the body to heal itself. They use a range of techniques but do not use drugs or surgery.

Most people who see an osteopath do so for help with back painneck painshoulder pain or other problems related to muscles and joints. Some osteopaths also claim to treat a wide range of health conditions, including asthma, digestive problems and period pain.

Outside the US, osteopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), and is different from conventional western medicine. Osteopaths may use some conventional medical techniques, but the use of osteopathy is not always based on science.

Read more about the common uses for osteopathy and what happens when you visit an osteopath.

Does osteopathy work?

There is good evidence that osteopathy is effective for the treatment of persistent lower back pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it as a treatment for this condition.

There is limited evidence to suggest it may be effective for some types of neck, shoulder or lower limb pain and recovery after hip or knee operations.

There is no good evidence that osteopathy is effective as a treatment for health conditions unrelated to the musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles).

Read more about the evidence on osteopathy.

Accessing osteopathy

Osteopathy is not widely available on the NHS. Your GP or local clinical commissioning group (CCG) can usually tell you whether it is available in your area.

Most people pay for osteopathy treatment privately. Treatment costs vary, but typically range from £35 to £50 for a 30-40 minute session. You do not need to be referred by your GP to see an osteopath privately.

Only people registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) are allowed to practise or call themselves osteopaths. You can find a registered osteopath near you on the GOsC website.

Find out more about how osteopathy is regulated.

Page last reviewed: 17/07/2013

Next review due: 17/07/2015


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Jada123 said on 19 July 2014

Osteopathic are excellent I had sharp pains in my back when I moved when I got out of bed it was so painful and stiff so I went to one private in Nottingham first it lasts an hour they said my pelvic was twisted and I teared a muscle they moved me in different points and put my pelvic back in correction don't know how long my pelvic as been twisted for the next day I could get out of bed with mild pain achy cause they I've moved me about my right hip felt achy for a few days but now I'm nearly pain free doing little excises that they gave me to get use to pelvic being in the righ position so of course it takes up to 6 weeks to feel 100 per cent I'm on my 3 rd day and I feel so much better the tear in muscle doesn't hurt maybe it's cause I was twisted I got to go back a week to check everything is ok and that's it they said if I want to go back every 3 months you can do but it's an option I defo will be going every 3 months defo worth the money it's 40 pound for the first hour after that it's 32 pounds for 30 mins and every 3 months it's only 2 pound a week to save 32 pounds well worth it they done wonders for me in the first session so anyone as back problems it could be one simple thing pelvic could be out of line with no drugs no surgery needed

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Onelittleredindian said on 02 March 2013

Osteopathic treatment is based on sound scientific principles and the training requires completion of a 4 year science degree very similar to a medical degree.
The main difference is that Osteopaths do not have prescribing rights like doctors and consequently pharmacology is not studied to the same level.
It really is about time that NHS Choices stopped this bias against Osteopathy and toward Physiotherapy which also lacks an extensive evidence base.
Why not consider the evidence for manual therapy as a whole (Physiotherapy/Osteopathy/Chiropractic/Sports Massage) and stop implying that one profession is somehow superior to the others, when there is no such evidence to support such a claim.
This is clear from the Physiotherapy section of this site which fails to quote any specific research regarding the efficacy or otherwise of Physiotherapy.
In fact the little evidence which is quoted applies to all manual therapy and Osteopathy/Chiropractic in particular.
Enough of this misleading twoddle. Give the general public the facts they need to make informed decisions and we'll all be better off.

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User689185 said on 23 June 2012

Please check the national council for osteopathic research for the most current research data

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Vicky Joseph

'My search for a back pain cure'

Vicky Joseph spent years searching for a cure for her back pain. Find out what finally helped her