Your first appointment will last for around 1hr 20mins. This is longer than the usual consultation time (40mins) to allow time for a full assessment to be undertaken.
The first phase of a new patient appointment is the case history, when the student practitioner will ask questions about the presenting complaint plus your past medical history, any accidents or surgery, your work and lifestyle, medication being taken and any other health conditions. This allows them to get a good understanding of how your body functions. The student practitioner will then leave the consultation room to discuss their findings with their tutor. They will then come back into the room for the examination phase.
For the physical examination, you may be asked to undress to your underwear to enable the student practitioner to have a global view of the body – in some cases neck problems can originate from issues in the hip so your student practitioner will be looking at the body as a whole. The practitioner will leave the room to allow for privacy while you undress and you are welcome to have a friend or relative attend to act as a chaperone. If you are uncomfortable undressing please do let your student practitioner know; you may instead choose to wear leggings or cycling-style shorts.
The evaluation will usually include examination of the spine, muscles of the back and joints and an assessment of your general posture and mobility. The student practitioner will ask you to perform some simple movements, for example forward bending and side bending, and will assess the general flexibility of your joints. After the physical evaluation the student will form a diagnosis and discuss that with their tutor. They will then inform you of the diagnosis and discuss a proposed treatment plan with you. Osteopathic treatment is not guaranteed during the initial consultation.
The student practitioner is trained to check for signs of serious conditions and for those they cannot treat and will refer you to your GP or other health professional when required.