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About Osteopathy Assessment


An initial assessment with an Osteopath usually lasts one hour, which allows some time for treatment as well. Most Osteopaths work in a well-heated private office. Following an interview, a patient is usually asked to disrobe to their underwear or bathing suit so that as much of the body as possible is revealed. This exposure allows the Osteopath to best utilize his senses of observation and palpation. During subsequent treatments, disrobing may not necessary.

The Osteopathic assessment is directed to understanding the patient's complaints and determining the causes of those complaints. The Osteopath listens to both the patient's story as well as to the body's story.

The interview begins with a list of the issues that the patient has sought help for, such as relief from pain, stiffness, tiredness, poor posture, or an overall sense of dis-ease. The word disease originally meant “a loss or deprivation of ease.” Then a chronological past history is taken under various categories. These include accounts of trauma, such as accidents, injuries, fractures, surgery, falls, and dentistry. Conditions include illnesses, headaches, and syndromes. Childbirth and pregnancy issues are considered, as well as general health concerns; and the effects of stress and stressful situations. Frequently nutrition, sleep and exercise habits are also reviewed.

In many cases the patient has multiple complaints and has experienced multiple examples of the above conditions in the body. The recounting of all these incidents and symptoms allows the Osteopath to begin to piece together the underlying factors that are contributing to the patient's complaints.

Building on the initial interview, the Osteopath begins the physical assessment of the patient. The Osteopath uses his/her eyes to observe, and his/her palpation to sense the condition of the body, tissues or systems. Through observation the Osteopath assesses the patient's standing posture, distribution of weight, preferential movement patterns, evidence of congestion, inflammation, restriction, or protection. While still standing, the patient is then asked to perform a series of simple movements, each directed towards determining the nature of specific elements of function.

The Osteopath then begins to palpate the patient, first while the patient stands, then sits, and while lying at rest. Initially the patient is able to detect the intent of the Osteopath's testing procedures. As the assessment progresses, the patient's perception of the Osteopath's touch fades as the Osteopath begins to palpate the body in a more subtle way.

Combining the patient's story with the results of the assessment, the Osteopath then determines a carefully structured treatment plan, which is explained to the patient. Once the patient has understood, and has consented to the plan, the treatment begins.