The consultation process takes between 75-90 minutes. The duration of the osteopathic consultation depends on a patient’s medical history and how many presenting complaints the patient has.
The structure of a consultation
Presenting complaint – You will be asked about the condition you are presenting with and the history of the complaint. This will include any mechanism of injury, the character of pain, any pain referral, and what aggravates or relieves the condition.
Medical History – Covers previous injuries you have suffered, medical conditions you may have, your history of surgeries, fractures, significant accidents, family medical history and any medication you take.
Systems review – This involves discussing the cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems, as well as the other main systems of the body.
Lifestyle – Covers your work environment and leisure activities, body mass index, dietary habits, alcohol intake, sleep and energy levels. And anything else felt relevant to understand the stress your body is under.
Once your medical history has been collected, the osteopath creates a differential diagnosis. This is where the osteopath uses their knowledge to hypothesise what might be happening and why. Once a differential diagnosis is formed, a physical assessment will be undertaken.
The physical assessment
Osteopathy considers the body as a whole; as such, the whole body is assessed during a physical assessment. During the assessment, particular attention is given to the region of the body that is painful or stiff, as well as associated areas that may contribute to the problem.
Clinical testing is performed relative to the differential diagnosis. This helps either rule out what the problem is not or what the condition may be. Tests may include assessing a joint’s movement, tone or strength of muscles, reflexes, or neurological changes in sensation.
Special tests may be performed. These are designed to reproduce a patient’s symptoms. These can better understand what tissues or structures may generate pain.
The goal of the assessment process is to come to a working diagnosis. Once this has been achieved, treatment may take place.
If, during your osteopathic consultation, no working diagnosis can be achieved. Or it is felt unsafe to proceed with treatment. If osteopathy is deemed unsuitable to help you, you will be referred to the most appropriate alternative health professional. This is usually your doctor, consultant or surgeon.
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