This is an excellent question that is often asked by new clients. Once you have experienced Osteopathic treatment this question is better understood.
The short answer to the question is that it can be painful but to fully understand this question you must understand the proper healing mechanism of the body, called inflammation (repair and healing). The aim of Osteopathic manual treatment is to reduce pain and improve function of the body by decreasing tensions and restrictions in your muscles, joints and organs.
Tissue healing (or tissue repair) refers to the body’s replacement of destroyed tissue by living tissue (Walter and Israel 1987) and comprises two essential components – Regeneration and Repair. The differentiation between the two is based on the resultant tissue. In the process of Regeneration, specialised tissue is replaced by the proliferation of surrounding undamaged specialised cells. In the process of Repair, lost tissue is replaced by granulation tissue which matures to form scar tissue. (Prof Tim Watson – http://www.electrotherapy.org/modality/soft-tissue-repair-and-healing-review)
Healing process (Repair) is further divided up into 4 phases:
BLEEDING, INFLAMMATION, PROLIFERATION and REMODELLING.
Certain techniques during an Osteopathy consultation will cause the body to begin its normal healing pathways. One part of this is an inflammatory process, which activates pain receptors to fire at a lower threshold and also makes nerve endings more sensitive, thus causing pain. By understanding that that this is an essential part of the healing pathway, which has 1000’s of enzymatic reactions occurring, we know that our body has started the normal process of repair and healing.
Your Osteopath can teach you management techniques to help reduce pain after the consultation such as using ice and heat, stretching and certain postural positions.
Once you have experienced the pain associated with a consultation, you will understand that the objective of every consultation is to reduce pain and improve function of the body by decreasing tensions and restrictions in your muscles, joints and organs.