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Osteopathy clinic based in Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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What is Osteopathy

Osteopaths specialise in the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal and other related disorders. 

Osteopathic treatment is hands-on and involves highly skilled manipulation of the spine and joints, and massage of soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) in order to relieve physical pain and emotional tension. There are over 100 osteopathic techniques. Your osteopath will explain what they are doing and will always ask your permission to treat you (known as consent).

How does osteopathy work?

Osteopathy's main focus is on the body framework, otherwise known as the musculoskeletal system (the joints, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and the bones) and the way in which this interrelates with the body as a whole. 

Osteopaths use scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology along with detailed understanding of disease processes and standard medical clinical methods to diagnose and treat mainly body framework problems.

Problems with the body framework may occur because of injury, stress or disease. By using the bio-social holistic health model (in other words treating body and mind) holistic osteopaths improve a patient's overall health as well as treating the strained or pained part of the person. 

As a result of osteopathic treatment, the musculoskeletal system is able to function as efficiently as possible. This allows the body to have a much better chance of restoring itself to normal health.

Osteopathy is one of the most popular musculoskeletal services. Around 30,000 people consult osteopaths every working day in the UK. 

Is osteopathy safe?

Several studies on the safety of osteopathy demonstrated that osteopathic treatment is very safe. Most people find the treatment enjoyable and relaxing. 

As with all manual therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment or even massage, minor reactions such as temporary post-treatment soreness are common and are more likely to happen after the first treatment. These sensations usually resolve within 24-48 hours.

Moderate reactions such as post-treatment ache that lasts for several days, numbness or tingling are uncommon. 99% of patients do not experience these. 

Osteopathy is significantly safer than alternatives such as medication or surgery. A recent meta-analysis study found that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen even for a short duration increased the risk of a heart attack. Other estimates are that the risk of death over 1 year from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for osteoarthritis is estimated to be 1:4,000 compared to 1:400,000 from a course of manipulative treatment. Opioid addiction and death is an increasingly recognised issue. The risk of death from surgery to the neck is estimated to be 1 death in 145 operations. 

Osteopath treating lower back pain
Osteopathy for neck pain treatment
Osteopathic shoulder treatment
Osteopath treating upper back pain

Does osteopathy hurt?

Unlike chiropractors, osteopaths rarely use strong force or manipulation when treating patients. If they need to manipulate your joints, they will explain to you the reasons why they think it will be beneficial and will ask for your consent and will use the gentlest form of manipulation.

Other osteopathic techniques such as deep tissue massage and stretching may sometimes feel a little uncomfortable, but shouldn't be painful. If at any point during your treatment you are uncomfortable, please let your osteopath know who will then adjust what is being done.

If you are still concerned about having osteopathic treatment, why not book a 15 minutes free consultation with our osteopath and discuss if osteopathy is right for you. 

What happens during the initial osteopathy appointment?

Prior to your consultation, you will be asked to fill out our detailed medical questionnaires. You will be asked about:

• how long you have had the problem,
• how it may have started,
• what factors may be stopping it getting better,
• what aggravates and what relieves the symptoms,
• the impact on your daily activities, including your domestic, social and work life.

You will also be asked about your:

• past history of similar problems,
• past injuries,
• other illnesses,
• hospitalisations or operations,
• any illnesses that have affected your blood relatives,
• the impact of your lifestyle on your health, for example your diet and exercise.

During your initial consultation, we will follow up on any aspects of your medical history that require more detail.

In order to do a thorough professional examination, it is likely that you will be asked to remove some of your outer clothing. Tell your osteopath if you are uncomfortable about this.

The examination will include a detailed evaluation of your standing and sitting postures. The flexibility level of your spine and other joints will be assessed. Depending on the problem, for example, if a disc is damaged or a nerve is entrapped, a neurological examination may need to be undertaken and may include testing:

• your nervous system reflexes
• strength and power of your muscles
• the sensation levels of your skin
• other specialist neurological tests

If necessary, other examinations or testing procedures may be required. For example, x-rays, scans or blood tests may sometimes be arranged.

Once the examination has been completed and the diagnosis has been made, our osteopaths can then decide as to whether osteopathic treatment is appropriate and if so, what osteopathic approach is indicated. Sometimes, depending upon what is diagnosed, a referral to another healthcare practitioner may be deemed to be in your best interest.

There are over 100 osteopathic techniques or treatment modalities that may be used. Some resemble massage and stretching, while others require patient participation. Some techniques are very light in touch, where others are relatively deeper. Osteopathic treatment is modified and tailored to each individual patient's needs and condition.

As part of osteopathic treatment, our osteopaths may suggest how to maintain the best possible level of health, for example, by prescribing preventative exercises to improve posture or giving advice on diet and lifestyle enhancement. These can be provided as part of an integrated personal well-being plan.

Our patients' experience of their initial osteopathy appointment

"I visited Alan to get a second opinion on the condition of my spine. I was already visiting a sports therapist which did not seem to be giving me the results that I felt I needed. After the most thorough examination that I have ever undergone he passed on the most informative feedback I that I have ever received. I was so impressed with the conscientious, meticulous yet calm manner in which the examination took place. I would highly recommend him."

"The initial appointment at the clinic proved to be a pleasant and enjoyable experience - the receptionist was courteous and most professional in noting my personal details and I was impressed with the therapist's approach in his thorough examination prior to the treatment offered. The explanation of the diagnosis of the problem was delivered in an understanding manner and the execution of the treatment was most professional. Thoroughly recommended !!"

"I was so impressed with the thorough and professional treatment I received today. It was far more in depth than I was expected[ing] and I was extremely impressed with Alan's honest approach. It's clear this is his calling rather than just a 'job' and his main aim is obviously to help people as apposed to just making money off them. I found my consultation both beneficial and educational and now feel I have the knowledge and tools to help prevent future back problems rather than just a quick fix!"

Alan Szmelskyj,
Registered Osteopath

DO, MSc, Adv Dip Clin Hyp, FRSPH

  • Registered with The General Osteopathic Council
  • Registered with The British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis
  • Over 35 years' clinical experience
  • International Speaker and Presenter
  • Author of many scientific publications on osteopathy and hypnotherapy
Alan Szmelskyj registered osteopath in Godmanchester Huntingdon Cambridgeshire

Our links with the NHS

Throughout his 35 years of clinical practice, our principal osteopath Alan Szmelskyj has been closely involved with the NHS in improving the management of musculoskeletal patients. Some of Alan NHS roles include:

  • Employed as an expert advisor by the Occupational Health Department at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and Papworth Hospital NHS Trusts advising the hospitals’ workforces on prevention of back pain.
  • Has trained GPs at the Postgraduate Education Department at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
  • Worked at both GPs surgeries in Ramsey (Huntingdon).
  • Has done multiple presentations about treatment of back pain at various GPs surgeries, including in Ramsey, Warboys, St Neots, Papworth (Huntingdon). 
  • Was invited by the Clinical Services Advisory Group together with other experts including a number of rheumatology and orthopaedic consultants to participate in the Huntingdon Focus Group on the Government’s guidelines on the management of back pain. One of Alan’s academic publications was mentioned in the Appendices section of the guidelines. 
  • Has been involved in several research studies exploring GPs’ referral patterns and attitudes to osteopathy. This research resulted in several academic publications. The most recent research surveyed hundreds of GPs in Cambridgeshire with the results analysed by statisticians of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at University of Cambridge School of Medicine. GPs were encouraged to participate in this study by Professor Sir David Haslam, former Chair of National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). 
  • As a result of Alan’s close links with the NHS, many GPs and hospital consultants come to see him as patients and also refer patients to him. 


Osteopathic examination is very thorough, similar to how a good neurology consultant would examine you. An osteopath may require you to undress to your underwear to examine how well your muscles and joints work. This is because excessive clothing may get in the way of an accurate assessment being made.

If you prefer, you can wear something you will feel comfortable in, for example bicyling sports shorts for men or sports bra and shorts for women.

If you feel in any way uncomfortable, please let us know straight away.

Yes, of course. We can arrange for another member of staff to be a chaperone or you can bring a friend or a family member with you to your appointment.

Usually yes, unless during the initial consultation we decide that osteopathy is not appropriate or safe in your case.

If you are unsure if osteopathy can help you, you can book a 15 minutes free consultation with our osteopath who will give you an opinion whether osteopathy is the right therapy for you.

No, an osteopath will explain what treatment techniques will be used and you will be asked for your consent. You do not need to agree and, if you change your mind, you can withdraw your consent at any point.

Unlike chiropractic treatment, osteopathic techniques are gentler and safer. We do not routinely manipulate (crack/ click) joints.

If an osteopath thinks neck or back manipulation is appropriate and safe in your case, he or she will discuss this with you and ask for your consent. If you do not want manipulation, you do not need to agree to it.

In some cases patients expect that their backs or necks will be "clicked". A common misconception is that "clicking backs" can "pop the disc back in". If in their professional opinion your osteopath considers manipulation not clinically appropriate or safe, he or she will not manipulate your joints and will explain to you why it is not appropriate to do so.

Most people feel relaxed and some may even feel sleepy after an osteopathic treatment. Many patients notice an immediate improvement in their condition and others soon after treatment (for example, within a day or two). Rates of improvement vary and can be affected by many factors. These include the severity of the presenting problem, the length of time it has been present, a person's age and pre-existing state of health. Your osteopath will discuss with you your likely rate of improvement during the consultation.

Occasionally, particularly if the treatment has been slightly stronger or, sometimes, after the first treatment session, some patients may feel slight soreness. This soreness is comparable to that experienced after doing unaccustomed exercise. This soreness usually disappears in a day or two. This is more likely to occur in those people who are not as flexible as they should be for their age and in those who are inactive or who exercise very little. As the underlying problem improves, soreness is not normally experienced.

We are fully accredited

Logo British Acupuncture Council

Registered with The British Acupuncture Council

General Osteopathic Council Registration Mark No 1290

Registered with The General Osteopathic Council

Professional Standards Authority registration logo

Accredited by The Professional Standards Authority

Member of The British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis Logo

Member of The British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis

True Health Clinics
34 Cambridge Road
PE29 2BT


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Patients travel to see us from a wide area, including Huntingdon, Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and London.

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True Health Clinics Unlimited registered in England and Wales. Reg No: 6848657. Reg. office: 34 Cambridge Road Godmanchester Huntingdon Cambridgeshire PE29 2BT