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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

Why do you want to know about that?

Why do I want to know about that accident you had 10 years ago, or the fracture you suffered as a child? Sometimes the questions you are asked by your osteopath don't seem relevant to your current situation. Here is why we ask the weird questions!

You will notice when you visit an osteopath for the first time, or the first time for a while, we will take your medical history - your illnesses, accidents, past operations, medication, what you did last week, what you did last summer and even further back than that. We are also likely to ask questions which do not seem relevant to why you have come to see us.

Why is that relevant?

Be assured - it is not just on a whim, or just being nosy. Your answers to these questions can shape what we think is happening and why you are experiencing your current problem.

When you walk into my room there are two main things I am trying to uncover and understand. First and foremost I am determining whether I am the best person to treat you. In some cases illnesses and diseases can show themselves as aches and pains which might bring you to me, such as back pain or shoulder pain for example. While most of the time this won't be the case, your health is my priority, and I will, with your permission, refer you to the GP or other specialist should that be appropriate, for further investigations.

Secondly I am trying to work out what is going on for you right now, why you have the pain or discomfort or why you are not able to move in the way you wish. Your medical history can be a rich source of clues which I will use to arrive at a working diagnosis, at which point treatment will be tailored to that diagnosis.

As osteopaths we treat and consider the whole person - not just the site of pain. The body is a single unit, all interconnected, with each part relying on and influencing other parts and often the cause of pain or reduced function is not a direct result of a problem at the site of pain, but an issue with somewhere else in the body. So don't be surprised by questions about your back and neck of you come in with a wrist problem, or your bowel function with back or leg pain. The more information you are able to give us the better we are able to arrive at a working diagnosis.

I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the records we keep are medical records, subject to GDPR regulation and as such are absolutely confidential. Should we feel there is a need to refer you to your GP we will discuss the reasons with you and obtain your permission to do so. You can be confident that you will be involved with decisions about your care.

Your health really is my priority and, in conjunction with careful examination, obtaining a clear and detailed medical history helps me to look after you.

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