What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy - It's not just about Backs & Bones

Linda Canning

October 5, 2020

Many of you may not have heard of an osteopath before, or it you have you might not be sure of what we do. That’s not so surprising as Osteopathy is not yet available on the NHS in Scotland, and there aren't many of us here: only approx. 159 registered in Scotland!

Osteopathy has been around a long time though. It was a gentleman called A.T Still who coined the term ‘Osteopathy’ in the late 1800’s in the USA.

Training Involved

In order to become an Osteopath in the UK, you have to obtain a degree in Osteopathy. In recent years however, students are required to complete a Master’s Degree in Osteopathy. We are highly trained. At university we learn all medical clinical examinations – we can take your blood pressure and even perform an abdominal exam! We learn the anatomy of the body in fine detail.

The title ‘Osteopath’ has been protected since 1993 and in order to call yourself such you have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council. We have to complete annual CPD (continued professional development) to maintain our registration.

What does an Osteopath do?

Portrait of mixed race man scratching is head in confusion

Put simply, we use highly refined, specialised manual therapy techniques to encourage the body to heal itself. There is a whole spectrum of techniques from the very gentle ‘cranio-sacral therapy’, to mobilisations, manipulations (like a chiropractor, except this is a very small part of our treatment and is gentle) and massage. We use whatever methods the person needs on that day. Not every practitioner uses every technique; we are all different so you’ll always find an osteopath that suits you. Some osteopaths have acquired extra training in kinesiotaping and acupuncture to name a couple and some of us work on the viscera (organs) too. We have a whole-body approach.

Why try us?

We will do our very best to get you better, quickly. Most people feel the benefit of treatment immediately, but for some it can take another session or two to improve. Generally, 3-4 treatments over 3-4 weeks is usually enough to feel like you’re on the road to full recovery and we might suggest another 1-2 panned out over a month after that. But everyone is different and it really depends on the tissues involved in the injury, how long you’ve had the complaint for, age, health and very importantly your compliance with rehabilitative exercises prescribed.

I often find through speaking to patients that their aches and pains have been there for years.  The masses of pain-killers their GP has prescribed barely make a difference and refers them to physio, which can take months. Pain killers short term can be useful, but long-term use is not good for your overall health. I sense when people come to see me, they've had enough and want a life free of pain-killers. Osteopaths can help with this. 

Sometimes patients are told the NHS have exhausted all avenues and some are told nothing more can be done. You can normally get an appointment within 2 days of enquiring and there is normally a lot that can be done to help! Do not except “it’s wear-and-tear and you’ll just have to live with it"! It’s very rare that this is the case.


We offer 40-minute appointments as standard to ensure you get the most out of each session. I have tried working with 30-minute appointments in the past and I just can’t get through everything. AT Still said that with treatment you have to “find it, fix it, then leave it alone”. Sometimes it takes a while to ask the tissues to change – we use palpation/feel with our hands while we are working to actually change the tissue state. When this happens, you feel better.

Some patients find that after the issue is improved, niggles can return due to our hectic work life balance.  Many patients come back for an ‘MOT’ when they feel the need, but this is entirely the patients’ decision.

Closeup medical doctor woman pointing on spine model and explaining female patient her problem. Healthcare concept.
Close up of osteopath doing spinal column rehabilitation exercise on young woman.
What can you expect from Bearsden Osteopaths?

We’re a highly professional and friendly bunch, all doing our best to keep people moving, working and functioning.  We will take the time to listen to you and make sure you undertand why you are in pain and how we, together, can make a difference.

We will always be open and honest with you and help you understand our treatments and recommendations.

If you have any questions at all regarding your aches and pains then please do contact us, we’d love to hear from you!

Linda Canning

0141 942 0629