What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a ‘whole body’ system of physical diagnosis and manual therapy that uses a range of manual and movement techniques to treat neuromusculoskeletal pain and other functional problems. Osteopaths view the entire body from an integrated systems perspective rather than focusing only at the area of a complaint. By understanding how each of the body systems that may be involved in a condition are interrelated, osteopaths aim to correct the source of the problem and help to optimise physical function and wellbeing. Studies have consistently shown that people report a high level of satisfaction following their osteopathy treatment for pain problems.
In Australia, osteopaths are government registered practitioners, with a training background covering medical sciences and diagnostics, as well as orthopedics, neurology, pain science and osteopathic manual therapy. This means that osteopaths are primary care practitioners and are trained to carry out standard medical examinations, provide conservative primary treatment for neuromusculoskeletal pain complaints, and to recognise conditions which require further medical investigation.
What about long-term and preventative care?
Osteopaths believe that getting patients to back to health and teaching them to how to stay that way is the best form of long-term preventive care. The key to preventing health problems recurring, and to developing long-term solutions, lies in increasing patients’ awareness of the causes of problems, and in helping them develop the awareness and skills they need to manage their own health. This can include:
- Identifying the causative factors, such as problems with overuse, deconditioning or workplace ergonomics.
- Teaching more efficient and less strenuous body usage in actions at home or at work.
- Providing individually tailored exercise programs both for rehabilitation and prevention.
- Teaching therapeutic movement exercises and relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
- Working in conjunction with other practitioners where appropriate.
How does an Osteopath treat my condition?
Osteopathic treatment involves manual techniques including soft tissue stretching and massage, resisted muscle contractions, nerve mobilisation, therapeutic needling (acupuncture), joint articulation and manipulation. The treatment is gentle and conducted with the patient’s assistance. Because osteopaths look at the ‘whole’ picture of human functioning, they also use a variety of approaches which acknowledge the many factors contributing to balance and health. We may therefore provide advice on diet, exercise, posture and other aspects of daily life. This comprehensive approach to management will help you to achieve the highest possible level of health and wellness.
So, what is the difference between Osteopathy, Physiotherapy and Chiropractic?
Since each of these three professions treat the same conditions, it is not surprising that this is one of the most common questions we are asked. Defining other professions isn’t our role, so this question is probably best answered by comparing your experiences with each approach. What we can say is that osteopathy has been at the forefront of manual medicine treatment for nearly 150 years and therefore many of the manual treatment approaches used in other professions originated in osteopathy.