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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

You are safe in our hands!

It can be a worrying and difficult time. You’re in pain – maybe it’s a long term pain that you can no longer cope with or a recent injury perhaps - and you’re trying to work out who to go and see. There is a lot of choice out there with loads of practitioners utilising a variety of healthcare models to treat patients.

So, I thought I would put this blog together to help you understand what to expect from osteopathy and an appointment with an osteopath and why you can feel safe and confident in your choice to see us at Ian Thornley Osteopathy.

My name is Ian and I am, as you might imagine, the osteopath at Ian Thornley Osteopathy. Now - what I’m not going to do is tell you that all those other practitioners are wrong and osteopathy is the way you must go, but I do think osteopathy offers great benefits for you, my patient, and I want you to feel comfortable and confident that when you come to see me you are going to get a truly individual treatment and treatment plan based on your specific symptoms and circumstances.

So, what on earth is osteopathy? You’ve probably heard the word and maybe know someone who has had osteopathic treatment but what is it?

Well in simple terms, which I think are the best way talk about things, osteopathy is a system of healthcare which uses safe and gentle hands on treatment, to structures such as muscles and joints, to relieve pain and promote health. At the core of osteopathic practice is the body is a wonderfully complex thing and within each and every one of use are the tools needed to get better – in other words the body has its own inbuilt medicine chest. When treating a patient, I am working to unlock that medicine chest by removing any barriers to getting the body doing it’s own healing using mechanisms which have evolved with us over the thousands of years humans have been around on this planet. I think that’s a pretty cool way to be able to help my patients!

What should you expect from your appointment?

It can be daunting choosing someone to help you, especially when you’re feeling less than your best, especially if you’re not sure what to expect.

Firstly, you’re never wasting my time. If you have something that is concerning you then it is also a concern to me. At one end of the spectrum I will be able to put your mind at ease, and at the other we will be able to start you down the correct path to the investigations or treatment you need.

And please don’t worry about what you look like when you come to see me. Messy hair and no make-up – no problem – you won’t be judged by me and at my lovely, rural clinic room you are unlikely to encounter anyone else you know! I’ve even had one patient say he put off coming to see me because it was painful to bend down to cut his toenails! Osteopaths have seen most things and really aren’t worried about stuff like this – come and get the help you need then you will be able to straighten your hair and cut your toenails!

So, you’ve taken the plunge and booked – what happens when you arrive? There are 3 main parts of the appointment – Discussion, Examination and Treatment

I will show you into my treatment room where we will sit and discuss why you have come to see me. I will ask you questions about what hurts, when and how it started hurting. If you’re not sure – no worries – it is often the case, especially with a problem which has gradually got worse.

I may also ask you about other areas of the body, including other aches and pains and the health of your vital systems such your digestive system and cardiovascular system. Why would I do this? As I wrote earlier the pain you are feeling in a particular area may be a symptom of something else occurring in the body rather than a problem with the area itself. By asking these questions I am getting information which, although it may not sound related to you, will give me a better idea of what is causing your problem and also the most appropriate way to manage it.


A key aspect of osteopathy is the physical examination. Osteopathy is a hands on treatment and osteopaths use their hands to palpate (feel) what the structures they are examining. For this I may need to ask to to remove some outer layers of clothing, possibly down to your underwear depending on the areas which need to be examined. Please wear underwear you are comfortable in, and feel free to bring a loose-fitting pair of shorts to wear. It is important that you are relaxed and comfortable in your appointment so if you are uncomfortable dressing down then please say so and we will work around that.

The examination itself will include getting you to move, me moving you, palpating the affected and surrounding structures and may include some testing of sensation and power – all this will give me the information to give you a diagnosis of what I believe to be causing your issue and how I propose to address it.


The treatment will generally follow straight on from examination, with your consent and approval. Osteopaths have a wide range of treatment techniques which can be combined and utilised to make the required changes and are selected based on you as an individual, taking into account all the information gathered from the discussion and examination. Some of these techniques are similar to massage techniques and some involve movement or manipulation of your joints. I will select the treatment techniques which I believe will give the most effective and these will be discussed with you so you always know what I am doing and why. If, after discussion, you are uncomfortable with the use of any of the treatment techniques please say so. The beauty of osteopathy is that with the wide range of techniques at our disposal there is always an alternative approach to treatment, and we will find one you are comfortable with.

Our mission is to help you open the medicine chest within and return to health, and most importantly, doing those things that makes your life yours! I find that the best way to do this is for you to be relaxed and confident that you have made the right choice for your treatment.

You are safe in our hands!

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