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Answers to common questions about Osteopathy

On this website we aim to provide answers to your questions about the regulation of Osteopathy, standards of training and practice, what to expect when you see an Osteopath and what to do if you have concerns about an Osteopath or your treatment.


Below are some of the questions we are most frequently asked, along with the answers. If you have any queries about Osteopathy, Osteopaths or the work of the GOsC that are not answered here or elsewhere on this website, please let us know via the Find us page, or by email, or by calling 020 7357 6655 ext 242 during office hours.

  • What is Osteopathy?
    Osteopathy focuses on the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal and other related disorders without the use of drugs or surgery. Commonly treated conditions include back and neck pain, postural problems, sporting injuries, muscle and joint deterioration, restricted mobility and occupational ill-health.
  • Do I need a GP referral to see an Osteopath?
    GPs can refer a patient to an Osteopath where they believe this intervention would be beneficial. However most patients 'self refer' to an Osteopath for treatment. Although referral by a GP is not necessary, patients are encouraged to keep both their GP and Osteopath fully informed, so that their medical records are current and complete and the patient receives the best possible care from both healthcare practitioners.
  • What can I expect on my first visit to an Osteopath?
    At the first consultation, the Osteopath will compile a full case history of your symptoms, as well as asking for information about your lifestyle and diet. The Osteopath may also observe you making some simple movements to help them make a diagnosis. You will usually be asked to remove some clothing near the area of the body to be examined. Osteopaths are trained to examine areas of the body using a highly-developed sense of touch, known as palpation, to determine conditions and identify the body's points of weakness or excessive strain. Osteopathy is a 'package' of care that includes skilled mobilising and manipulative techniques, reinforced by guidance on diet and exercise. The Osteopath will discuss with you the most appropriate treatment plan, estimating the likely number of sessions needed to treat your condition effectively. If the Osteopath thinks that your condition is unlikely to respond to Osteopathic treatment, you will be advised about how to seek further care. Osteopaths are skilled in diagnostic techniques and trained to identify when a patient needs to be referred to a GP. For further information read the General Osteopathic Council leaflet What to expect from your Osteopath or see the page 'Visiting an Osteopath'.
  • How long do Osteopathic appointments usually last?
    In general, the first treatment lasts about 45 minutes, and subsequent treatments around half an hour. Your first appointment is usually slightly longer to allow for a full case history to be taken.
  • How much does treatment cost?
    Treatment costs vary across the UK, but typically range from £35 to £50 for a 30 minute session.
  • Do Osteopathic training schools have clinics offering treatment at a reduced rate?
    All Osteopathic training schools operate clinics where students train, supervised by qualified Osteopaths. Patients can access quality care here at a reduced rate. See the General Osteopathic Council's list of training schools to find a training school clinic.
  • Can I see an Osteopath through the NHS?
    Currently, access to Osteopathy on the NHS is limited, but services are becoming more widespread as commissioning authorities recognise the benefits of providing Osteopathy to patients. To find out if NHS treatment is available in your area, speak to your GP and/or contact: 1. If you are in England - your local primary care trust. 2. If you are in Scotland - your local health board. 3. If you are in Wales - your local health authority. 4. If you are in Northern Ireland - your local health and social service board/group. There is more information on who to contact in your region on the NHS website at
  • Can I claim on my private medical insurance?
    Many private health insurance policies provide cover for Osteopathic treatment. It may be possible to claim for a course of treatment but you should check in advance with your insurance company before seeking Osteopathic treatment, in order to confirm the available level of cover and whether you will need to have a referral from your GP or a specialist.
  • Do Osteopaths offer home visits?
    Some Osteopaths do offer home visits as part of their service. You can check the UK Statutory Register of Osteopaths, which is available on this website and provides information about home visits, or ask the Osteopath directly.
  • How do I know if an Osteopath is registered?
    All Osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council. You can use the Register to check whether your health professional is currently registered.
  • Can anyone call themselves an Osteopath?
    The title 'Osteopath' is protected by law, and only those included on the Register are entitled to practise as Osteopaths. Unregistered practice is a criminal offence in the UK.
  • Can I find out how long an Osteopath has been registered?
    The date an Osteopath was first registered with the General Osteopathic Council can be seen in the 'Practitioner Details' on the Register.
  • What training do Osteopaths have?
    Undergraduate students follow a four or five-year degree course combining academic and clinical work. Qualification generally takes the form of a bachelor's degree in Osteopathy – a BSc(Hons), BOst or BOstMed – or a masters degree in Osteopathy (MOst).Many Osteopaths continue their studies after graduating. Osteopaths are required to update their training throughout their working lives. They must complete at least 30 hours of Continuing Professional Development per year.
  • Who sets the standards of training and practice for Osteopaths?
    The standards of osteopathic training and practice are maintained and developed by the General Osteopathic Council, the profession's statutory regulator established under the Osteopaths Act 1993.
  • What is revalidation?
    Revalidation is the process by which Osteopaths will have to demonstrate to us that they are up to date and fit to practise, and meet the relevant professional standards. The General Osteopathic Council are in the process of developing their revalidation scheme, which they plan to introduce in 2014. All healthcare regulators are required by the Government to develop a scheme for revalidating their registrants. For further information the General Osteopathic Council Revalidation page.
  • What should I do if I have concerns about the Osteopath or the treatment I have received?
    All Osteopaths are expected to have a complaints procedure in place in their practice to address patient concerns. If you have concerns about the competence or the professional conduct of your Osteopath, and you have been unable to resolve the issue satisfactorily with the Osteopath or their employer, the General Osteopathic Council will advise on the next steps to take under a formal complaints procedure.

Osteopathy ensures the muscles tendons, joints, nerves, fascial system all work smoothly together to provide optimal body performance. It helps a variety of medical conditions including joint pains such as hip and knee pain from exercise, arthritic pain, acute and chronic back pain, neck pain, frozen shoulder, circulatory problems, cramps, digestion, sciatica, muscle spasms, neuralgia and rheumatic pain.

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