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Getting Better – Improving your wellbeing

By on Aug 18, 2014 in Health | 0 comments


How much better can you expect to get and how long can you expect it to take when you have injured yourself?

Questions like these that come up time and again in the clinic are not easy to be specific about. There are some general rules of thumb, but wellbeing is something both subjective and objective.

The best way to think about it is by looking at the wellbeing curve, an idea posed to me by James Butler of Painless Practice. (Whilst I have re-drawn the chart, I believe the original © is that of Painless Practice.)


There is always something that triggers us to seek help when we have injured ourselves. It is different for different people and whilst some people may have higher pain tolerance or be able to deal with less mobility, eventually quality of life is affected enough for us to seek help. It is normally only when our overall wellbeing is significantly affected that we look for help.

Once wellbeing drops below our trigger point, that is when we call the therapist. In my experience, this is normally in response to pain, often having ignored warning signs for sometimes up to a few weeks.

The immediate response to treatment is, very often, but not always, an improvement. This may last for a day or a week, depending on the problem you have, but also in some cases, things can get worse for 24 to 48 hours. If it gets worse, this is normally due to the body reacting to the problem area and inflammation building up initially faster than the increase in circulation can cope with. In many ways, things seeming to get worse to begin with is a positive thing, the body is alerted to the problem and has started to do something about it again as opposed to just ignoring it.

In the extremely rare instance that it has not started improving by the second session, normally this next treatment really assists the body to turn the corner and the pain, stiffness, inflammation etc. will usually rapidly improve from this point onwards.

After this, more nuanced choices are required to be made. For increased wellbeing on a permanent basis, for a permanent and lasting improvement in wellbeing, you can’t afford to leave it at the ‘improving’ stage. If you discontinue treatment at the point where you cross back over the trigger point line, the problem almost always recurs and wellbeing declines again.

The ‘trick’ is to complete the course of treatment recommended by the therapist and find that area where you actually improve your overall wellbeing to better than before your health started to decline.

I can’t count the number of people that have said “I’ve never felt this good before in my life” or “I feel better than I have done for years”.

Then, a regular maintenance treatment will ensure that your wellbeing doesn’t decline again.

In many ways, you should treat Osteopathy like you do the dentist. A check up every six to eight months will enable the practitioner to isolate and treat specific areas that are collecting strain and tension before you can feel it and before it starts to give you pain.

It should be seen in the same way as removing weight from a shelf before it breaks or stopping stretching an elastic band before it starts to deform and snap. If you regularly remove strain and tension, it won’t build up enough to cause damage.

Our aim as Osteopaths is not to get people to come back time and time again until they are ‘dependent’ on treatment like an addict, but to treat people in a way that reduces strain and teaches them to manage themselves better. We try to educate as well as use hands-on treatment, so that success is measured by, people saying: “Go to Bolton Osteopathic Clinic, I feel great after my regular {insert your own optimum duration here} month service. We fixed my problem, now I just maintain great health.”

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