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Examination is another important factor in finding out the nature and extent of an injury. There are several skills used in the Osteopathic examination process.

Observation is used to find any signs of inflammation, physical differences an area and any structural problems. There are many signs of dysfunction that are evident through observation, such as Keene's sign of ankle instability, or Helbing's sign of foot pronation. Osteopaths also like to observe full body posture, so that the symptomatic area is seen within the context of the entire body. The symptomatic region may be the 'weak link in the chain' that has broken down rather than the cause of the breakdown.

Palpation is the use of touch to find signs of inflammation, swelling, tenderness and tissue tone. Osteopaths are experts in palpation and have an excellent undersatanding of applied anatomy. This skilled use of touch and anatomical knowledge helps determine the dysfunctional tissues causing a problem. This has bearings on treatment, as a muscle will be treated differently to a ligament.

Active Tests
These are range of movement exercises performed by the patient. They give information about which particular tissue type is damaged, e.g. muscle, tendon or ligament, and which ones.

Passive Tests
Passive tests are range of movement exercises where the examiner moves the injured body part without the patient's help. This also gives information about the particular tissue that is damaged and also allows the examiner to palpate the quality of the movement at the same time.

Special Tests
Special orthapaedic tests are used to find out more specific information, such as if a knee meniscus (commonly called a cartilage) is damaged.

All of the information taken in an examination is considered, as tests are only indicators of a problem, not proof of a problem.

Hitchin Osteopathic Clinic, Old Park Dental Surgery, 72 Old Park Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 2JT 01462 432609