Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 9:00 – 5:30, Saturday: 9:00 – 12:00

WHAT you ask

We’ve put together a list of additional questions you may have about our treatments, people and the Clinic.  If your question isn’t answered, please do not hesitate to get in touch by completing the Contact form below.

About Osteopathy

As osteopaths we believe that individuals’ wellbeing depends on their bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue functioning smoothly together. Osteopathy aims to achieve this optimum performance on our bodies, offering both physical and psychological benefits.

Shefford Osteopathic Clinic was established in 2000. Since then we have helped well over 20,000 patients, the vast majority of whom, after a course of treatment, have enjoyed some or all of the following benefits:

  • Relief from aches & pains
  • Enjoying relief from back pain
  • Improved general mobility
  • Extra flexibility
  • Improved posture
  • Improved health
  • A happier life
  • Better relationships with family & friends

Osteopaths can offer advice on lifestyle and diet as well as exercise and physical ailment and are recognized by the NHS as Allied Health Professionals.  Most osteopaths work in private practice, and we are working increasingly within the NHS and with other healthcare professionals like your GP.  You can find a more detailed look at the NHS view of osteopathy at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteopathy/

In their training, osteopaths are taught a variety of treatment methods and techniques, ranging from the well-known “high velocity thrust” with its dramatic clicks, to the very gently applied methods used by so called “Cranial Osteopaths”.

Osteopaths vary in their treatment methods depending on their education, their own preference and individual patient’s problems.

“Cranial Osteopath” is the name by which osteopaths who work at the gentler, subtle end of the spectrum of different treatment approaches have become known. Osteopaths may have different specialities, including sports injuries, paediatrics, visceral (treating the internal organs of the body). Cranial osteopathy embraces all of these.

All of the osteopaths here at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic are trained in cranial osteopathy.

Osteopathy is a philosophy and form of alternative healthcare that emphasizes the interrelationship between structure and function of the body, as well as the body’s ability to heal itself.

Osteopathy is a form of drug-free non-invasive manual medicine that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, which includes the joints, muscles and spine. Its aim is to positively affect the body’s nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems.

This therapy is a unique holistic (whole body) approach to health care. Osteopaths do not simply concentrate on treating the problem area, but use manual techniques to balance all the systems of the body, to provide overall good health and wellbeing.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still established the practice of osteopathy in the late 1800s in the United States of America, with the aim of using manual ‘hands on’ techniques to improve circulation and correct altered biomechanics, without the use of drugs.

This page was written to help you learn more about the history of osteopathy.

To begin with the term “osteopathy” was first used by Andrew Taylor Still in 1874.

Who was Andrew Taylor Still?

Dr Andrew Taylor Still was a “doctor of the people”, a Christian who retained an independent nature characteristic of the frontier people of the United States of America. AT Still was born in 1828 in Virginia. He was the son of a physician and Methodist preacher, and elected to follow his father into medicine. After studying medicine and a working apprenticeship with his father, he entered the American Civil War as a hospital steward. However, his autobiography suggests that he was able to perform some surgery after showing a degree of medical knowledge and competence.

His rejection of traditional medical treatment in those days arose from the death of three of his children from meningitis in 1864 and his feelings of inadequacy and helplessness to do anything to help them survive. Dr Still concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were frequently ineffective and sometimes harmful, such as using mercury chloride, arsenic, strychnine and antimony in medical procedures. Andrew Still devoted the next 30 years of his life to studying the human body and finding better ways to treat disease, which would ultimately become osteopathy.

Dr Still also mentions that in his early childhood, he was a persistent headache sufferer, and used to effect some relief by suspending a rope swing between 2 trees and resting his head and neck on it: one of the many experiences which were to be incorporated in the development of osteopathy.

After the Civil War, Dr Still became known as the “Lightning Bone Setter” and his reputation for the ability to treat many conditions from dysentery to sciatica spread.

The therapeutic system of treatment he devised has its origin in a number of treatment philosophies available at that time. These include phrenology, mesmerism, magnetic healing, bone setting and conventional medicine.

What was unique about his ideas to health?

Andrew Still’s ideas centred on how our body’s systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for good health, and were revolutionary at that time. More than this, he thought that he had stumbled upon a unique causation of disease – that “bones out of place” could damage blood and nerve supply hence causing illness.

His research and clinical observations led him to believe that the musculo-skeletal system contained all the elements needed to restore health, if properly stimulated. By correcting problems in the body’s structure by manual techniques, the body’s ability to function and heal itself could be greatly improved. He also promoted preventative medicine and endorsed the philosophy that osteopaths should treat the whole patient not just the disease.

When was the first School of Osteopathy founded?

By 1890 Andrew Still’s fame had spread so widely that Kirksville, Missouri became a place of healing, with people travelling hundreds of miles to seek his help. The railroad company was even forced to lay on more trains to cope with the ever-increasing demand. In 1892 he opened the first osteopathic medical school with the help of William Smith, an Edinburgh medical school graduate. By 1897 Smith had secured standards of training equal to those found in US medical schools and osteopaths were registered as independent medical practitioners by the State Legislature. By the beginning of the twentieth century, there were 4,000 osteopaths, over 10 schools and 17 states had recognised them as physicians and surgeons. Through the succeeding decades, what started as an alternative medical cult became a successful profession and by 1930 osteopathy accepted the materia medica as part of their training and treatment.

When did osteopathy come to Britain?

One of the early osteopathic students was a Church of Scotland minister John Martin Littlejohn, who had been sent to the US to find a climate more conducive to his health.

After qualifying under Dr Still’s tutelage, Littlejohn returned to the UK where he is thought to have given the first UK lecture on osteopathy in 1898.

Littlejohn’s experiences and belief in the new treatment were such that he went on to establish the British School of Osteopathy (BSO) in 1917 in Buckingham Gate London. The school stayed on this site until the 1980’s when it moved to Suffolk Street and then in mid-1990’s to its current site on Borough High Street in London.

The initial intake was 20 students who would qualify with a Diploma in Osteopathy.

There are now five main training schools and several smaller schools. The main five schools are University College of Osteopathy (formerly The British School of Osteopathy) near Tower Bridge, London; The European School of Osteopathy in Maidstone Kent; The British College of Osteopathic Medicine in North London; The London School of Osteopathy in Grange Road, London and The London College of Osteopathic Medicine in London which caters for doctors training to be osteopaths.

Yes there is a recognised official body for osteopaths.

We are regulated by and have to be registered with The General Osteopathic Council – which ensures that we are safe to practice and you are in safe hands.

It is the General Osteopathic Council which ensures patient safety.

There is also the Institute of Osteopathy (iO).   The iO supports, cares, represents, advises and protects its members.

The iO used to be the British Osteopathic Association which was a merger of the three professional bodies representing osteopaths and was formed in 1998.

The purpose of the Institute is to unite, promote, develop and support the osteopathic profession, for the improvement of public health and patient care. By working collaboratively with osteopathic institutions at local, national and international levels we strive to raise the standards of care by osteopaths, and improve the understanding and awareness of the public and fellow health professions to the benefits that osteopaths bring to the resource and cash strapped health economy.’

Yes, believe it or not we are a primary care physician – the same as a GP is – the main difference being that we are not trained in surgery or pharmacology, but studied the art and science of osteopathy instead.

Osteopathy is regulated and was the first complementary therapy to have undergone statutory regulation by Parliament. This gives an osteopath similar status to a doctor or dentist and guarantees a patient the equivalent high level of protection.

All osteopaths in the UK are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).

The Statutory Register of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) was opened in May 1988. The term ‘Osteopath’ was protected in law in May 2000.  It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC, which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety. The GOsC can, and will, prosecute individuals who practice as osteopaths when they are not on the GOsC Register.

To qualify, your osteopath will have undergone a 4-5 year accredited course at an established osteopathic institution. This training and qualification ensures that your osteopath is safe and competent to practice.

Osteopaths are required to renew their registration each year and GOsC provide registrants with an annual license to practice. As part of this process, the GOsC checks that osteopaths have current professional indemnity insurance, remain in good health and of good character, and have met mandatory continuing professional development requirements.

All the osteopaths at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic are registered with GOsC.

 To check if your osteopath is registered you can go to Finding An Osteopath on the General Osteopathic Council’s website. If you can’t find the osteopath you are looking for or you need further help, contact the General Osteopathic Council at info@osteopathy.org.uk or phone 020 7357 6655 ext. 242.

How long does an osteopath train for is something all patients want to know, and they are always surprised at how long it is and the depth of knowledge that we have to learn.

All osteopaths practicing in the UK have completed rigorous training. Students of osteopathy follow a four or five-year degree course, during which they study anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, nutrition and biomechanics. In addition they undergo a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical training. Qualification generally takes the form of a bachelor’s degree in osteopathy – a BSc (Hons) Ost, BOst or BOstMed – or a masters degree in osteopathy (MOst).

As well as completing the necessary training, osteopaths must also prove themselves to be in good health and of good character, and have professional indemnity insurance cover.

The General Osteopathic Council sets the standards of osteopathic education, and requires qualified osteopaths to update their training throughout their working lives, a process known as continuing professional development.

More information can be found in the Standards of Osteopathic Care leaflet on the General Osteopathic Council’s website.

Each professional will have different interests, such as:

  • They may specialise in treating certain areas, for example frozen shoulder.
  • They may train in additional therapies to add to osteopathy – for example acupuncture.
  • They may specialise in treating sports or pregnancy and children.

Our osteopaths have trained at different institutions and have different interests; thereby we are able to offer you a huge wealth of experience all under one roof.


How long will the treatment take is a question that we get asked often – from “How long will the treatment session last?” to “How long will it take for me to be pain free / start feeling better?”

The first question is easy to answer.  We generally allow up to 30 minutes for each of your treatment sessions.  Included in this time will be a mixture of talking about your concerns, assessing and treating you, giving exercises or discussing postures at home and work, therefore you may not receive 30 minutes of “hands-on” treatment. We do offer 45 minute and 1 hour treatments, which your practitioner will discuss with you if they feel more time is needed to help you get back to health.

How long will it take to get better is a more difficult question to answer as everyone is different:  you heal at different rates, have different lifestyles and how you have ended up with the symptoms you are suffering with will be uniquely yours.

What I can tell you is that:

  • We will assess you on an individual basis and devise a treatment plan for you.
  • We will discuss with you what is happening with your body.
  • We will not treat you for longer than you need.
  • We like to see an improvement within 3 sessions, but depending on how long you have been experiencing your symptoms this may be a little bit longer.
  • We will recommend treating you weekly until your symptoms start to resolve and we may then recommend extending the treatments out – this is to make sure that you are able to get back to enjoying your life and ensure that the problem is not returning or being aggravated by something in your lifestyle.

Many patients return for maintenance / prevent treatments every 6-8 weeks or at an interval that suits you – this is because both you and I have identified that you would benefit from regular treatment keeping the body as healthy as it can be – after all you get your eyes and teeth checked regularly – even your car!

When you visit our practice you can be assured that your treatment plan is designed specifically for you. We don’t just focus on the acute problem, but work with you to find out what you would like to do – participate in a sport or hobby, play with the grand children, to be able to go for a walk, to be able to reverse the car.

Once you are feeling better, it may be tempting to cancel your remaining appointments.

It is great that you are symptom free, but the underlying cause may still be there in some form and there is often more work to be done. It is common that when you stop your course of treatment too early, your symptoms return. This could then lead to you saying that “osteopathy didn’t work”. It did work, as you were symptom free, but because the underlying issues were not fully cleared as you didn’t complete the treatments, the symptoms return.

“Pain is the last to arrive and the first to leave”

IMAGE - GraphSource: Painless Practice

Above is the wellbeing curve. It shows your journey as a patient, from deciding to make an appointment to completion of treatment.
There will be a reason / or a trigger as to why you decide to make the call and book an appointment for treatment. Usually this is pain, but not always. At your first appointment you are assessed and a personalised treatment plan is created for you. There are usually weekly treatments to get you out of pain / reduce your symptoms and then treatments at greater intervals as we work on the underlying cause of your initial complaint.

Just as you should complete a course of antibiotics, you should complete a course of treatment even if you are feeling better. Obviously it is your choice, but if our professional advice is X treatments, or we need to see you in X weeks time, then there will be a reason for that. It takes time for the body to heal properly and absence of symptoms does not mean good health. Many patients, just like you, find that when they complete their course of treatments, not only does the original trigger resolve, but underlying niggles, aches and pains disappear and they find that they have more energy, are sleeping better and have a feeling of increased wellbeing.

We like to be able to offer you an appointment within 24- 48 hours.  If you need the beginning or end of the day, or an appointment with a specific practitioner, then it may take longer. We do however work Saturday mornings as our latest weekday appointment is 5pm.

We can’t promise you will immediately be back to pounding the fairways across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, or even running the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon if it’s a week away. We can say that it varies depending on what is going on with you and your body.

Many patients feel immediate benefit after treatment, some take a few days after treatment before the pain starts to decline. Our Clinic audit shows that after 3 treatments the majority of patients show an 80% improvement in their symptoms.

In an average day we see as many as 20 people from Shefford and the neighbouring towns in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.  Thus we can almost certainly guarantee as the Clinic has been running since the year 2000, we have seen someone with the same type of pain as you.

Osteopathic treatment positively affects the nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems, to deliver a more balanced body and better health overall. This combined with good dietary and /or exercise prescription can enhance a patient’s well-being and often leads to a positive approach to individual health responsibility.

We understand the concern that osteopathic treatment may cost you a lot of time and money.

I hope to reassure you when I tell you that we don’t have set treatment plans or sign you up for 10 sessions in advance.

We work with you – so the length of the process and therefore the time and money will depend on what you want to get out of it.

We are happy to treat the acute problem – which will be between 2-5 sessions depending on what is going on in your body and how you are using your body in your day to day life.

If you want to improve how your body works, and want to look after it, then you may decide to have regular treatment for the rest of your life or a period of time – this will not be weekly I will quickly add – this will vary between 4-12 weeks depending on you and your lifestyle.  A bit like having teeth and eyes regularly checked – stops something nasty occurring.

If you have received treatment and we decide together that you would be better off seeing another practitioner within the Clinic or another speciality outside the Clinic, then we would like you to pay for the treatment you have had.

Currently, if having taken the case history and examined you, we decide that you are unsuitable for treatment we generally tend not to charge, despite the fact that we have spent time with you and used our expertise.

You may or you may not, it depends on what you are expecting from your treatment and your practitioner.

I recommend that you ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why is the other osteopath cheaper?
  • What service will I be getting?
  • What and how am I comparing prices?
  • What do I want from treatment?
  • How important is price to me and why?
  • What represents good value for money for me?

Usually if an osteopath is more expensive it will be because he or she has more experience and perhaps has done further training and become specialised.

Osteopathy is very safe and it would be extremely rare for this to occur.  Having said that all osteopaths, as part of their registration with the General Osteopathic Council, will have sufficient insurance cover.

~You can find more information in our ‘Is it safe?’ question or more detailed information about the General Osteopathic Council’s research into ‘adverse events’ here.

Yes, you can read reviews from previous patients on our What You Say page.  Most of our patients come from word of mouth, the Clinic has been established since 2000 and we give around 75 treatments each week at the Clinic – so we can’t be doing that badly!

From business workers in Bedford to new mothers in Letchworth and from grandmothers in Biggleswade to children in Luton we have treated many different types of patients.

Fees and Payments

The first osteopathic consultation will cost £65 and allows for 30 minutes.

For this you will have had a detailed medical history taken, your condition discussed, have been examined and some treatment given.  When you leave you should feel that you understand what is happening with your body and what we are hoping to achieve with treatment.  You will also get a booklet “What you need to know”.

It will cost between £50 and £75 for each subsequent treatment  depending on which osteopath you see and how long your appointment is.  This will include a review of how you are progressing, further examination and usually more treatment than the first session.  This is your time to ask any questions; you will probably have some as the amount of information we give you on the first session can be quite a lot to take in.  You might want to find out more about how your body works, maybe what you should be doing at work, what exercises you can do and so on.

Depending on what is happening, you could have a little as 2-4 treatments and then a check-up at 6 months.  We will work with you so that you get what you need and want out of treatment.   We won’t treat you unnecessarily.

We review our fees yearly for the beginning of January, and believe that we offer good value for money given the experience that our practitioners have and the results that we achieve.

We accept most credit and debit cards, cash and even cheques!

We are happy to give you a receipt for your treatment, just remember to ask your practitioner.

The answer is yes – but there will be a few things that you need to do.

You will need to first check your private medical insurance policy to see if osteopathy or sports therapy is included, if you have an excess and if you need to see a GP to refer you for private treatment.

Most private medical insurance companies will then issue you with an authorisation number for treatment and either an amount they will pay or the number of sessions they will pay for. Bring this information with you and we will then invoice the company directly for payment.  Please remember that any excess payment will need to be made directly to the practitioner.

Some companies will prefer you to pay yourself and obtain a receipt for treatment which they will then reimburse.

Here at the Clinic we are happy to accept both methods of private medical insurance and we are registered with the majority of private medical insurance providers.

We are sorry to say that after over 10 years of being a BUPA and AXA PPP provider we are no longer able to offer treatment to patients with these companies policy.  This is due to them changing their terms and conditions and capping the amount they pay for each treatment – in this instance by 25%. They also would not allow us to collect the difference directly from the person we were treating.  We hope that if they change their terms and conditions we will once again be able to offer treatments on BUPA and AXA PPP.

Our Clinic

We understand the problems you face in Shefford trying to find a free parking space. This can be particularly troublesome if you have to park some distance from the Clinic, particularly when you are in pain. This is why it was important for us to offer free and easy parking right in front of our Clinic. Whether you are travelling from Letchworth or Hitchin you will be happy to know we offer stress free parking on your arrival.

We like to be able to offer you an appointment within 24- 48 hours.  If you need the beginning or end of the day, or an appointment with a specific practitioner, then it may take longer. We do however work Saturday mornings as our latest weekday appointment is 5pm.

Whilst you may live in Shefford, your day job in Letchworth or Bedford may prevent you from getting to the Clinic in the week. Thus we feel it is important to offer appointment times at the weekend – and we are open on Saturday mornings.

Many patients are surprised how long the Clinic has been open.  Karen Robinson established Shefford Osteopathic Clinic in January 2000, and since then it has grown into the busy clinic it is today, providing a highly effective service for its patients.

It is a vital part of the community ensuring the health and wellbeing of people from:

  • Ampthill
  • Arlesey
  • Barton Le Clay
  • Bedford
  • Biggleswade
  • Clifton
  • Clophill
  • Flitwick
  • Gravenhurst
  • Henlow
  • Hitchin
  • Holwell
  • Langford
  • Lower Stondon
  • Maulden
  • Meppershall
  • Pirton
  • Sandy
  • Shefford
  • Shillington
  • Silsoe
  • Stotfold
  • Toddington
  • Wilstead
  • Wixams

as well as further afield.

Your opinion is important to us
Your feedback is important to us and helps us to shape our service for patients. We would like to hear from you if you are particularly pleased with any aspect of your visit to the Clinic. If there are any improvements we could make then please let us know. We also need to know when things go wrong, so we can learn from our mistakes and make improvements.
Tell us what you think
This practice is committed to providing an excellent service for our patients. We are ready to listen and will improve and shape our service through listening to you.
We are listening to you
We have a complaints procedure in operation. A summary is provided below. You can obtain a copy of the full procedure from any member of staff or by downloading it from here.
We will make changes
Whilst we pride ourselves in the quality of care, support and dedication we offer our clients we appreciate there may be situations where you may consider we have not met your expectations. If you have a complaint or concern about any aspect of your treatment, please let us know as soon as possible. Make your complaint either in person, by phone, by letter or in an e-mail. Please give full details of your complaint and we will undertake to treat it seriously, deal with it promptly and learn from it by reviewing or, if appropriate, improving our standards. If you make a complaint we will:
  • Arrange a time to discuss or meet with you and the person dealing with the complaint, in order to ascertain what actions you would like us to take to resolve the issue.
  • Find out what happened and what went wrong.
  • Make sure you receive an explanation and apology where appropriate.
  • Investigate fully and provide a written response if appropriate.
  • Keep you informed throughout the process of the action we are taking and when you can expect to hear from us.
  • Identify what we can do as a practice to ensure that this concern does not arise again.
Should you feel that your complaint has not been handled appropriately you can contact The Institute of Osteopathy Complaints Resolutions Service. The Institute of Osteopathy is an association for osteopaths. Organisation: Institute of Osteopathy Complaints Resolution Service Telephone: 0800 110 5857 Email: IO@osteopathy.org

Other Clinics

This is almost an impossible question to answer!

How do you define the best? Is it by the amount of knowledge that practitioner has?

Or do you base it by the average time it takes for patients to recover?

I think the best osteopath in the area is the one that you get the best results from.

The team here at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic are by no means the most experienced, or even the most knowledgeable in certain subjects (maybe in others), but they will always do their BEST to help you and if they don’t think they can help you then they will always find someone who can!

My advice when choosing an osteopath, or even another therapy, would be to:

  • Make sure that the osteopath has studied a four or five year full-time degree.  The training of other therapies can vary, but make sure they have completed a recognised course and not just a weekend one!
  • Enquire whether they hold membership of their regulator (The General Osteopathic Council) and their national association (eg Institute of Osteopathy).
  • Use an osteopath or therapist who has been recommended by a friend or GP.
  • Don’t persist with treatment if the therapy given does not suit you.

We are not the most expensive in the area but we are on the higher end of the average in Shefford.

Fees vary from clinic to clinic in Bedfordshire and different therapies often have different pricing structures. Osteopathic sessions normally cost £50 to £53 for an initial visit and £42 to £48 for a follow up visit. Chiropractors have different pricing structures and often group sessions into packages.

Also bear in mind that the number of sessions may vary depending on the condition that you are being treated for and the duration of treatments may also vary. We will try to get you back to normal with the fewest number of treatments and we will never keep you coming back in unnecessarily.

If you are looking for cheap treatments then we may not be the most suitable clinic for you. There are always offers on Groupon where you can usually get a consultation and two or three treatments for a ridiculously cheap price!

Start to live your life again …

Call us now on 01462 811006 

to make an appointment

What to do now ……

If you’ve come to this website looking for help, then don’t in silence suffer any longer.

Contact us immediately on 01462 811006 for a consultation and let’s assess your condition.

At the assessment, we’ll take some details from you and build your case history. We’ll discuss why you’ve come to see us and where you have any aches and pains. Then we’ll examine you with the aim of giving you the appropriate treatment.

This will take a little while to complete, but it’s a necessary part of the ethical guidelines we work to. The guidelines are there to make sure everything is done professionally and to a high standard of patient care. I’m sure you agree that’s a good thing!

If you have any questions about what we do and how we do it, call us on 01462 811006 or use the contact form below – and we’ll be happy to help.