Is osteopathy safe?

Yes, stringent and extensive training over five years and regulation by statute law ensures that osteopaths have the skills necessary to care for you in a safe and gentle fashion. It is more important that your osteopath knows when not to treat than when to, and for that reason alone, substantial training to diagnose and understand circumstances when treatment would not be safe is given.

Most treatments are gentle and are always aimed at getting the maximum healing from the minimalist intervention, your osteopath is not trying to force your body back to health, instead we assist the body to return to normal.

All intervention that has the ability to do good, can potentially do harm, however in the vast majority of cases this is far from the case and in those few patients that do experience some kind of side effect from osteopathic treatment, they experience no more than that which might be expected the day after a heavy work out at the gym or going for a long run.

It must be stated however, that a treatment reaction may happen and is most common for a couple of days post treatment. Your osteopath is experienced in dealing with this and views it in a positive way as it means in most instances that a change in your body’s ill health has occurred. If you have experienced this, then it is important that you let your osteopath know at the next appointment so that they can adjust and tweak your management plan accordingly. Remember, your osteopath will gladly talk to you if you have any queries relating to the treatment you have had, so if in doubt call.

Some manipulative techniques (the ones that make the popping noise) have had a lot of bad press recently, with particular emphasis given to forceful manipulations of the upper neck which have in a very few patients caused minor temporary strokes, and in some cases these have been permanent. The exact figures relating to the numbers involved is not known but is thought to be in the one or two cases, which must be seen in the context of a recent report which estimated that 1220 patients deaths occur in those who take a 2 month prescription of NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory) in one year alone (please click on web link at the bottom of the page for references). However, putting statistics to one side, any risk must be weighed up, and at shane huggins osteopathy , no manipulation of the upper neck is given without prior consent having been received from you the patient and after attempts, which are most often successful to release the tensions in a more gentle and safe manner have failed and then only when all risks have been eliminated by careful and thorough testing. All osteopaths are trained to perform upper neck manipulations in a way that minimises the risks still further. For more information please do speak with your osteopath who will be glad to explain in more detail.

Do I have to be referred by my doctor?

No, although most GP’s actively refer their patients to osteopaths but no official referral is required. If you are uncertain about your suitability for treatment at the osteopaths then we welcome you to either call us for an informal chat or check with your GP.

Currently osteopathy is fully recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC) and British Medical Association (BMA), however only a few osteopaths are working within the NHS

Do I need regular check ups?

Prevention is always better than cure. More and more of our patients are taking a longer-term view of their health resulting in preventative treatments becoming increasingly popular. Just as you might visit an optician or dentist for regular check-ups, patients can benefit from visits to The Family Osteopath for advice and treatment when needed.

Maintenance treatment is indeed necessary even when there is no pain. The contract of care that your osteopath discussed with you on your first consultation will have given your osteopath a good idea as to how spaced out maintenance treatments should be, to benefit you long term.

Candidates for maintenance tend to be those who place a continued heavy burden on their bodies such as builders and sports enthusiasts/ high impact short recovery and also patients who are coping with long term disability and or significant arthritic issues that require regular intervention to manage the issues rather than solve completely.

Either way, the choice is entirely up to you and we at Shane Huggins Osteopathy will gladly discuss through with you the options available, and will be happy to see you on your terms.

When can I get an appointment?

We can usually offer you an appointment within 24 hours of your call. We also have clinics in the week that run out of office hours. We also provide home visits and weekend services. Emergency appointments (on provided number “mobile”) are also available. To make an appointment with the osteopath please call the Practice on “ tel number” during working hours or drop in to 39e Bedford Avenue.

What happens during your first consultation?

The osteopath needs to know about your health past and present and you will be asked detailed questions about your complaint, medical history, general health and medication you may be taking. These may not necessarily seem relevant to you; however there are certain medical situations we need to know about. The first consultation involves taking a very detailed medical case history and you will be asked certain questions for your own safeguard. This is private and confidential. This is because all registered osteopaths practising in the United Kingdom have a specific responsibility by law to safeguard the general public and at all times to adhere to the highest professional standards.  During your initial consultation the osteopath will ask you about your symptoms how they began and the factors that affect them.

Following a thorough osteopathic examination of the patient a diagnosis is formed, relayed to the patient and the relevant treatment is given.
Initial appointments usually last between 50 minutes to one hour depending on the problem. Following continual treatments will last 30 minutes. If it is necessary we can refer you to an alternative therapist or for any imaging necessary as we have good links with local GPs and orthopaedic consultants.

Do I have to undress?

We care about your health and never want a state of undress to be a barrier to you getting the treatment you need, so please speak to your osteopath and express your concerns and we will do our utmost to cater for your needs. Osteopathy is a medical intervention and we are trained primary healthcare practitioners who have your safety, effective and ethical treatments at the foremost of our minds at all times. In most cases, light and loose clothing is suitable and we do have spare sports shorts and vests available should it be necessary for you to dress down as osteopathy works by taking an integrated approach so examination/treatment of what might seem unrelated areas may be essential for your effective and safe treatment. Your privacy and modesty is respected at all times.

Remember that you are free to bring along a friend or relative with you to act as your chaperone at any time.

What should I wear?

Wearing loose clothes, such as a vest top with shorts or jogging trouser/bottomss, is the best way to be dressed for your treatment. During the consultation it is important that we can gather accurate and detailed information about your body mechanics and structure and in order to achieve this please be aware that you may be asked to undress to your underwear.

How many treatments does it take to get me better?

Our aim is to get you back to full health as quickly as possible. Each person is an individual and different in the way they are made, the way they look after their bodies, how long they have had the injury, and the way they react to treatment and act on the information they are given, so an exact number of treatments is hard to say. Currently the average recovery time is around a handful of treatment sessions (anywhere between 4-6 sessions on average). Please note that taking on board the advice that your osteopaths gives is essential for your recovery and can have a large impact on your recovery time. Your osteopath does not want to completely stop what you love doing, far from it, we want you to be able to enjoy everything, but a few simple changes to lifestyle and habits and sometimes a little rest can go a long way to ensure that your enjoyment is never curtailed.

What is the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor?

Historically this is a political answer relating to the founder of osteopathy, Dr Andrew Taylor Still falling out with his student, D.D. Palmer who then went on to be the founder of chiropractic. Nowadays, the differences between us are slight with many osteopaths working like chiropractors and vice versa. From an academic perspective, the training is almost identical now, being over five years and both healthcares are fully regulated by statute law. There is a difference in the philosophy with regards to both practices. The principle working difference that we have gleaned from our own patients experience, has informed us that osteopathy tends to involve more rhythmical and gentler techniques (less spinal manipulation that can produce “the popping sound”) over consultations that last a little longer and are fewer in number. Further that we tend to work on a wider area of the body rather than concentrating primarily on the spine and pelvis.

Does it hurt?

The general rule is no as all techniques are specifically chosen to suit individual patients and a consultative approach is taken to ensure that you the patient are comfortable at all times. The golden rule is “”do no harm””, so the “no pain no gain” saying is not applicable here.” Occassionally, some of the osteopathic techniques used can feel slightly awkward and unusual but they should never hurt.

What happens if I have a complaint?

In the first instance you must inform your osteopath as to the nature of your complaint. We have never had a complaint at this practice, and indeed, complaints against osteopaths are few and far between. The General Osteopath’s Council inform us though, that in the instances where complaints have been made against osteopaths, almost all are down to an error in communication and therefore talking through with your osteopath might help to clarify any misunderstanding.

Osteopaths are regulated by statute law and a statutory register is held by The General Osteopaths Council (GOsC). Should you wish to make a formal complaint to GOsC then please contact the practice and full details of how to make a formal complaint will be given to you without prejudice.

Will you consult with my GP?

Your osteopath is a primary care healthcare professional and as such is able to communicate with others healthcare professionals should the need arise. It is standard practice that your GP will be informed of the outcome of your osteopathic treatment after you have been discharged. However, you are entitled to the same confidentiality as you would expect from your GP, therefore, any communications with your GP or others will require your express consent of which you are fully entitled to withhold should you wish to. On some occasions, a referral to your GP is essential so that you may receive the best healthcare available, in these instances and with your consent, a letter of referral detailing your case will be sent to your GP.

Can I cancel?

At Shane Huggins Osteopathy, we understand the busy schedule of our patients and that life has its unforeseen circumstances.  If you do need to cancel your appointment then please allow as much time as possible so that other patients might benefit from being treated in your place.  A minimum of 24 hours notice is required;  we reserve the right to charge a late cancellation fee for those appointments cancelled or missed.  The fee will be the same as the appointment missed.
In all circumstances though, please make contact with your osteopath, to let them know that you can’t make your appointment, as your osteopath needs to be sure that your health is ok and update your medical records accordingly.  If you do not show up for an appointment, your osteopath will contact you to ask why.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

What is acupuncture?

Its roots derived from China about 2,000 years ago, where it developed a highly sophisticated theoretical basis. The traditional Chinese acupuncture system used today comprises of seemingly unclear ancient concepts that are fairly difficult to fully comprehend. However, many modern Western practitioners find that acupuncture can be understood in scientific terms and consequently it has been reinterpreted from a modern anatomy, physiology and pathology perspective.

Can it cause any harm?

Acupuncture carries the same risks as any other medical procedure involving needles, such as damage to internal organs or structures, though this is rare. To put it in perspective, the risk of harm occurring as the result of acupuncture is probably less than the risk of taking aspirin or an anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis (these drugs can cause bleeding).

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture is usually not pain-free. However, it is no more painful than an ordinary injection or blood test and in many cases it is less painful than these. As a rule it is necessary to produce a little pain to achieve an improvement but some people feel nothing at all. Oddly enough, Many people find that it can also lead to increased energy levels, better appetite and sleep as well as an enhanced sense of overall well being.

Are the any adverse effects from dry needling?

In some cases patients will find that their symptoms become temporarily worse for a short period of time following acupuncture treatment. This is regarded as an aggravation.

If this happens do not panic, raise your concerns on your next visit; it may be possible to avoid the aggravation in future by treating you more lightly. But some people will get a mild aggravation from treatment. In general, aggravation is followed by an improvement, so it is quite a good sign.

To some degree drowsiness after acupuncture is quite common. This may make driving or operating heavy machinery dangerous. In general patients should not drive themselves home after treatment, particularly on the first visit.

Patients who have previously had acupuncture should therefore be cautious about driving or operating heavy machinery for the rest of the day and should be prepared for their reflexes to be a little slower than usual.

This list does not exhaust all the adverse effects that have been reported but it does summarize the commonest ones. If you have any particular apprehensions about the treatment, please do not hesitate to discuss them with the person who is going to treat you.

Can acupuncture transmit AIDS or hepatitis?

No, because all the needles are individually packaged in sterile blister packs and once used are disposed of immediately. There is therefore no possibility that infection could be transmitted.

Will acupuncture cure me?

Acupuncture doesn’t ‘cure’ diseases although it can give good relief, especially for pain. It is best thought of as a form of symptom relief.

In most circumstances ‘top-up’ treatments are advised to maintain symptoms and encourage improvement.

Your Visit

Case history taking

A detailed medical history is taken. You will be asked certain questions about your lifestyle and body. These may not seem relevant to your case, however there are certain medical situations we need to know about for your own well being


You will be asked to dress down to the underclothes ( or cycling shorts/swimming costume if you prefer) yuo may have a family member or friend with you if you wish. The examination can involve the patient standing, twisting and bending and performing neck and arm movements. This is to observe and take note of postural imbalances, abnormal muscle tone or spasms, restrictions in the movement and mobility of your joints and signs of pain, weakness or inflammation.


Tests are conducted from a set of basic orthopaedic investigations i.e. motor and sensory functions with reflexes. This is followed by a full osteopathic assessment and this will involve gentle feeling of the individuals tissues.


The findings will be discussed with you, together with the diagnosis. A treatment plan may be explained to you and this will include how to prevent the injury from returning as well as the number of appointments you may need. generally, this involves monthly visits or 6 weekly visits to ensure the body remains at its optimum condition.


Osteopathic treatments are safe. They include a combination of massage, articulation of the joints and gentle stretching. Treatments therefore may also but not always include gentle manipulation of the joints. This is a completely safe method of osteopathic treatment – your well being is the primary concern


Treatments may be reinforced with exercises, personalised for you and your recovery. These exercises will be demonstrated for you.

After care

With osteopathic treatment we are encouraging blood to the surface, encouraging the healing processand and reducing inflammation. Following treatment you may feel uncomfortable on or around the area worked on and this may last between 24 – 48 hours depending on the pain levels. Importantly you will feel a little sore before you gain the benifits of treatment.

We recommend booster treatments. Typically these are visits every month. Alternatively you may want to attend for a one off treatment when you so choose.


If you relapse or develop a new problem, we will do our best to help.  Emergency calls are available.

Professional standards

Professional standards are maintained and monitored by the GOsC (General Osteopathic Council) we comply fully with this requirement by attending post graduate courses, lectures, seminars and private study.


We want you to be completely satisfied. If for any reason you need to discuss any aspect of your care with us, please contact us by phone, letter or email.