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Yes, an osteopath can help if you have lower back pain. They’ll use a wide variety of hands-on techniques to try to reduce your pain and prevent it from coming back. You can have osteopathy for short-term or long-term general lower back pain.
For more information, see our section: About osteopathy
There are some minor disadvantages of osteopathy but these aren’t usually serious and only last for a short time. For instance, you may feel some soreness or discomfort in the area in which you received the treatment. Your osteopath will talk to you about any potential risks before they do any treatment.
For more information, see our section: Side-effects of osteopathy.
The difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath is that a chiropractor will mainly focus on the spine and joints, and an osteopath will focus on the whole body. They both use manual therapy but osteopathy is based on the idea that your general health and wellbeing depend on your skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues all working smoothly together. Osteopathy also reduces restrictions to the circulation and nerve supply, with a particular focus on the relationship between the body's structure and how it functions.
Different types of manual therapy, including osteopathy and physiotherapy can all treat lower back pain, but they take a slightly different approach. Physiotherapists will place more emphasis on you taking an active part in your rehabilitation, rather than relying on passive treatments. Osteopaths are likely to provide more hands-on treatment through manual therapy, although they do prescribe exercises too. It’s not known yet if one way of doing manual therapy works better than another.
For more information, see our section: Alternatives to osteopathy.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
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- About osteopathy. General Osteopathic Council. www.osteopathy.org.uk, accessed 21 February 2023
- Urits I, Schwartz RH, Orhurhu V, et al. A comprehensive review of alternative therapies for the management of chronic pain patients: Acupuncture, tai chi, osteopathic manipulative medicine, and chiropractic care. Adv Ther 2021; 38(1):76–89. Doi: 10.1007/s12325-020-01554-0
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- Quality in osteopathic practice. A report on patient experience, evidence, impact, training and regulation of osteopathic practice in the UK. The Institute of Osteopathy. www.iosteopathy.org, published January 2022
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