The purpose of Osteopathy

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints. Osteopathy is founded on the principle that the welfare of a person depends on their muscles, bones, ligaments and connective tissue functioning smoothly together. Osteopaths use physical manipulation, stretching and massage with the aim of [1]:
  • increasing the mobility of joints
  • relieving muscle tension
  • reducing pain
  • enhancing the blood supply to tissues
  • helping the body to heal

Use in breast cancer recovery

Breast cancer surgery may have side effects such as bruising and injury to the blood vessels or nerves. This may persist for a while and so osteopathy can be used. Individuals that have used osteopathy have expressed an improvement in their wellbeing in the form of reduced pain, reduced tension and increased comfort. Therefore, it is an option among many for anyone recovering from any type of trauma or surgery such as breast cancer surgery [2].

How accessible is osteopathy?

It is available on the NHS, however it is subject to recommendation from your GP. Most people pay for this treatment privately to get swift treatment with no delays.

The process of getting the treatment

Firstly, your osteopath will ask about your medical history, as well as looking at your general lifestyle including diet, work and exercise. The purpose of these question is to find out what is causing your symptoms. They will then examine you, which might include checking your heart rate, reflexes, and breathing pattern. They might want to contact your GP to make sure you should go ahead with treatment [1]. The osteopath might use their hands to stretch, massage and improve movement in your spine, joints and muscles. Sometimes they use a rapid thrust type action. This can cause a popping sound due to the sudden change of pressure in the joint space. This might sound alarming, but it shouldn’t be painful. Tell the osteopath if you have any discomfort or want them to stop at any time. Treatment sessions usually last about 30 to 40 minutes. Most osteopaths suggest that you have between 3 to 6 sessions to get the most benefit. Your osteopath may suggest exercises that you can do at home to help prevent further muscle and joint problems.


Osteopathy does not treat or cure cancer, however it can be used by individuals to ease side effects of surgery. It is drug-free and non-invasive meaning you do not have to worry about putting any chemicals into your body. Many of the exercises can be done at home meaning this form of treatment can be a convenient option and can be done independently. Osteopathy can provide relief from various forms of conditions, therefore a person who has gone through breast cancer surgery and has arthritis can use this option to treat both. Some changes to diet and ergonomics may be advised such as seating position at work. This is to allow maximum benefit from the osteopathic treatment [1].

Related Content

To know more about this topic, check out episode#24 on DOTIVthepodcast titled “Osteopathy in Breast Cancer Recovery Aftercare” with hosts Guni & Thasha and guest Sonal Patel.


  1. Chila, A., 2011. Foundations of osteopathic medicine. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp.22-39.
  2. Michell, M., 2010. Breast cancer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.14-36.
The purpose of Osteopathy

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