What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a form of hands on manual therapy which facilitates healing by focusing on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue, and internal organs work together as a whole functional unit. The Osteopathic philosophy gives a holistic approach to health and recognises the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions.
In Australia, Osteopaths are government registered allied health practitioners who complete university training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, general healthcare diagnosis, and Osteopathic techniques.
Osteopaths mainly work in private practices but may also work in a range of health settings including multidisciplinary medical/health clinics, rehabilitation clinics, aged care facilities, professional sports clubs, government, chronic pain management settings and research institutes.
What can Osteopaths treat?
Each individual is unique, so Osteopathic treatment will vary from person to person. Your Osteopath will take a detailed case history, assess the mobility of problem areas, and form a diagnosis to work out the best treatment and management plan for your needs.
Osteopaths treat more than you think. They focus on how your skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulatory system, connective tissue, and internal organs function as a whole-body unit.
Osteopaths are trained to assist in the management of musculoskeletal problems such as…
Neck pain & headaches
Back pain & disc injuries
Repetitive muscle strains
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Shoulder, elbow & wrist complaints
Hip, knee, ankle & foot complaints
Joint pain and arthritis
Tendonitis and bursitis
In your initial consultation, your Osteopath will ask about your problem and symptoms. This will include asking questions about your medical history, any medications you are taking or other factors that may not appear to be directly related to your problem. Your Osteopath will advise you if they can treat you or you need to be referred to another health practitioner.
Your Osteopath will conduct an examination whereby they will guide you through movements and perform clinical tests to assess and evaluate your presenting issue. Since Osteopathy takes a whole-body approach to assessment and clinical management, your Osteopath may look at the area that is troubling you, as well as other parts of your body. For example, if you have a sore knee, your Osteopath may also look at your ankle, pelvis and back. After the examination, the Osteopath will explain the diagnosis and proposed treatment and management plan to the patient.
Osteopaths provide a broad range of treatments. This may include a wide range of hands-on techniques including massage, stretching, repetitive movements, mobilisation and/or manipulation. Your Osteopath may also prescribe exercises for you to do at home or work, and offer advice and recommendations on posture, diet, stress-management and lifestyle factors to help you manage your condition and function.
Initial consultations may take up to an hour.
In a subsequent consultation, the Osteopath will begin by asking and noting any changes in the symptoms presented in the initial presenting complaint. After doing so, the Osteopath will assess the patient’s progress and commence the management that they see most suitable. Return Osteopathic consultations usually take between 30 to 40 minutes.
Do I need a referral from my GP?
A formal referral from your GP is not necessary. Whilst patients may be referred to Osteopaths by Doctors, many patients self-refer.
What techniques do Osteopaths use?
Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy, so hands-on treatment may include massage, stretching, repetitive movements, mobilisation and/or manipulation.
Most Osteopathic treatment is gentle and should not cause undue discomfort. If your injuries do require hands-on treatment of painful and tender areas, your Osteopath will aim to make you as comfortable as possible.
There are techniques which may cause some short-term discomfort or pain. You may experience mild soreness for a day or two after treatment, similar to that felt after mild exercise. If this soreness persists or increases significantly, please do not hesitate to contact your Osteopath to discuss your concerns.
Do I have to remove my clothes?
Depending on the area of your body requiring treatment, your Osteopath may ask you to undress to your underwear. We suggest you wear modest underwear or gym wear, so you are comfortable. If you are asked to remove outer clothes, you will be covered with a towel during the treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
Osteopathy is patient centred, which means treatment is suited to you as an individual. Your Osteopath will give you an indication of your treatment plan and options during the initial consultation. For some acute conditions 2-4 treatments may be all that is necessary. Chronic conditions may need more treatment and ongoing maintenance sessions at 1-3 month intervals.
Can I bring someone with me to my appointment?
Yes, you can have someone present throughout your consultation and treatment.
If a baby or young child or is being treated, the parent or guardian will be required to stay in the room during treatment.
Teenagers may be requested to have a parent or guardian present in a consultation. Discuss this with the clinic and your Osteopath before your appointment.
What are the origins of osteopathy?
Andrew Taylor Still, born in 1828 in Virginia, USA, was the founder of osteopathic medicine. The four principles he founded Osteopathy on are as follows:
- The body is a unit
- Structure and function are interrelated
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance
- Treatment and management are based on the first three principles
Treatment and management provided by Osteopaths is guided by these principles.
Osteopaths are concerned not only with trying to alleviate patient’s pain and other symptoms, but also with trying to help prevent problems recurring. We regard treatment as a co-operative process between practitioner and patient and encourage patients to participate in preventive health programs.
Preventive Osteopathic care may include maintenance hands on treatments to help keep you mobile and active. It can also include the prescription of exercise programs, provision of ergonomic and postural advice, and dietary and general lifestyle advice.
In addition, where appropriate, Osteopaths may refer patients to other practitioners to assist with preventive work such as our clinic’s Pilates and Hydrotherapy Classes.