Muscle and joint conditions

Osteopathy is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints. Below, you can read how osteopathy can help with:


Neck pain

Neck pain is common in people of all ages. There can be a variety of reasons for this discomfort.  A8_What_Osteopathy_Treats_26852014

Working all day bent over a computer, driving long distances, poor posture while standing or sitting, stress and tiredness are all factors that can cause the muscles in the neck and upper back to become tight and the joints to become stiff, which can contribute to ongoing neck pain.

Sometimes a nerve in your neck can become irritated or “trapped” and cause pain in the arm going down into your shoulder or the hand, and may be accompanied by pins and needles and numbness. Some headaches can be the result of tension or stiffness in the neck and upper back.

Natural age-related wear and tear (osteoarthritis), does not necessarily lead to neck discomfort, however coupled with other factors, it can lead to muscular pain from the neck into the shoulder as well as some stiffness in moving the neck.

How can an osteopath help?

  • Osteopaths can use a wide range of gentle hands-on techniques depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis to reduce muscular tension in the neck and improve movement in the joints of the neck and upper back.
  • Management is tailored to each individual and sometimes it might involve other areas in the back and shoulders as well as the neck.
  • Advice on posture at work or in the car, on exercise and stretching to help keep your neck and upper back muscles and joints relaxed.
  • X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis. An osteopath may refer you to your GP or a specialist for additional investigations or treatment.


Shoulder pain

Shoulder pain is common and can be caused by a number of conditions, including:

  • Rotator cuff problem – pain in the shoulder or upper arm, particularly when lifting the arm, lying on it or using the sore muscles. It is often the result of repetitive overuse of the arm and shoulder during a sport or activity or the result of a shoulder injury. Age can also play a part.
  • Acromioclavicular joint pain – painful joint on the tip of the shoulder where the collarbone and shoulder blade join.
  • Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis – is the painful and gradual stiffening of the shoulder capsule (the tissue surrounding the shoulder joint) and the shoulder often becomes so stiff and painful that it limits ability to use the arm in everyday activities.
  • Referred shoulder pain – pain is experienced in an area away from the injury or problem e.g. pain in the shoulder, usually referred from the neck or upper back.
  • Osteoarthritis – progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint leading to the two bones of the joint rubbing together causing pain. Patients who have had previous trauma or shoulder surgery are most likely to develop osteoarthritis in later life. Symptoms include swelling, stiffness, aching and sharp, stabbing pains.
  • Shoulder instability – dislocation or excessive movement of the shoulder joint.

Shoulder pain: Kelston Chorley MSc.Ost, gives an osteopath’s view

How can an osteopath help?

  • Shoulder problems are often complex and can take time to resolve. An osteopath will work with you to try and understand the cause.
  • Depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis, a variety of gentle hands-on techniques may be used to improve the movement in the shoulder and reduce tension in any tight muscles.
  • Management and treatment approaches will be different for every individual and will often take a whole-body approach. Techniques may be used to loosen the joints of the neck and upper and mid-back and shoulder blade area and sometimes the low back and hips if it is felt they are contributing to shoulder pain.
  • Specific strengthening or loosening exercises to the shoulder may be offered, along with advice on posture. How the shoulder is used may also be looked at and any lifestyle habits that could contribute to shoulder problems.
  • X-rays, scans or other tests may be required to make a diagnosis and a referral made to a GP for any further treatment.


Hand and elbow pain

Pain occurring in the hand can sometimes be relieved by gentle manual treatment, depending on the cause. Osteoarthritis or wear and tear in the joints of the hand and the elbow may benefit from advice from an osteopath.

Elbow pain is often due to two main conditions commonly known as tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. Tennis elbow causes pain and tenderness around the outside of the elbow joint, whereas golfer’s elbow causes pain around the inner side of the joint.

Tennis elbow is more common than golfer’s elbow, although both are injuries from repetitive overuse or wear and tear from any hobby, sport or activity, not just tennis or golf as the name implies. Sometimes a single injury such as a sudden unexpected tug on the forearm can cause the symptoms. Once the pain starts, normal activities and habits can maintain the problem. Pre-existing problems with the neck, wrist or shoulder, that might not be painful in themselves, can make it more likely to experience tennis or golfers elbow.

Hand and Elbow Pain: Kelston Chorley MSc.Ost, gives an osteopath’s view

How can an osteopath help ?

  • A variety of different massage and mobilisation techniques may be used to try to ease symptoms, get to the cause of the problem and back to normal lifestyle, using gentle mobilisation of the elbow, wrist, neck and upper back joints.
  • Advice may be offered on activities and movements to avoid, specific exercise and an appropriate elbow brace support or sports strapping.
  • You may be referred to a GP for advice about pain medication or anti-inflammatories or referred to a specialist for any additional investigations or treatment.


Hip pain

There are a number of reasons for hip pain, such as a tight, strained or overused muscle in the hip or from the joint itself. Pain in the hip can sometimes be the result of an injury, it can be referred from the back or related to the way a person moves, stands and/or uses the hip.

Pain from osteoarthritis or wear and tear in the hip joint is also common. Osteopaths can help manage the stiffness by looking at the way the hip moves, strengthening and stretching the muscles, gently massaging the hip muscles and stretching the hip joint to reduce tension and improve the mobility of the joint, as well as working on the secondary problems like backache.

X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis and an osteopath may make a referral to a GP or a specialist for any additional investigations or treatment.



Knee pain

The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is a major weight-bearing joint and is one of the most frequently injured joints in the human body.

Knee pain can have a number of different causes, can be painful and debilitating and, although some conditions may require surgery, many can be helped with the right advice, exercise and treatment.

The knee joint lies between the femur and tibia and at the front is the patella or kneecap. It is made up of a number of structures including ligaments, muscles, capsule, synovial membrane and two ‘c’ shaped pieces of cartilage that sit between the femur and tibia, known as the menisci.

Damage, strain or sprain to the structures of the knee can give rise to symptoms. It can be the result of a sudden injury as often seen in sports injuries or by repeatedly placing strain on an area of the knee. Poor alignment of the knee or kneecap and altered joint mechanics in relation to other joints, such as the hips and knees, are often significant. Osteoarthritis or wear and tear is a common condition that affects the knee.

Common symptoms in the knee include pain, stiffness, aching, locking, swelling, limping and difficulty fully straightening or bending the knee.

X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis and an osteopath may make a referral to a GP or a specialist for any additional investigations or treatment.

Knee pain: Kelston Chorley MSc.Ost, gives an osteopath’s view


Foot and ankle pain

Pain can occur in the foot and ankles for a number of reasons. The foot and ankle are made up of a number of small bones interconnected by ligaments, muscles and fascia all working together to give strength, stability and flexibility the foot and ankle needs to function properly. Common conditions of the foot, ankle and areas which can give rise to pain include:

  • Acquired flat foot – when the inner side of the foot or inner arch flattens. The foot may roll over to the inner side. It is often apparent if the heels of shoes wear out quickly and unevenly. It can damage the ankle joint and achilles tendon (the tendon at the back of your ankle) and can also cause shin pain. Symptoms can include, pain, swelling, change in foot shape and knee pain or swelling.
  • Plantar fasciitis –is often a sharp pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia – the tough fibrous band of tissue that supports the arches of the foot and runs under the small bones from the underside of the heel and sole towards the toes. It tends to be made worse by standing for long periods of time in poor footwear, being off the feet for a long time and putting the foot on the floor first thing in the morning. The sole of the foot can occasionally feel a little numb, tingly or swell slightly.
  • Achilles pain –The Achilles tendon is formed by the tendon of the two calf muscles, coming together and attaching on to the bone at the back of the heel. Pain, inflammation or tendonitis can cause pain and tightness in this area.
  • Sprained ankle. Typically the result of a sudden twisting or “going over” on the ankle joint.  Typical symptoms are swelling, bruising, pain and instability of the ankle. Sometimes an x-ray is required to rule out any fracture. Rest, ice, elevation and compression can help in the first 24 to 48 hours after injury.

 How can an osteopath help ?

  • Depending on diagnosis, age and fitness, a variety of gentle massage and mobilisation techniques can increase mobility in the joints and the flexibility of the muscles in the foot.
  • Often muscles and joints in lower limbs, knee, hip and lower back will be looked at and any joint restrictions and muscle tightness may be treated to improve the movement in the joints of the lower body will help the foot and ankle function better.
  • Specific balancing, strengthening or loosening exercises may also be offered, along with advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and any lifestyle factors that might be hindering healing. You may also be referred to a podiatrist.
  • X-rays, scans or other tests may be required to make a diagnosis and a referral to a GP may be made for any additional investigations and treatment, such as advice on pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications.


Useful links

Osteopathic Sports Care Association

Arthritis Action

Versus Arthritis

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