03 Oct What is an Osteopath?
I’m an Osteopath….
You’re a what??
I’ve never heard of it!
Is that to do with bones?
Is that some arty-farty witchcraft stuff?
I’m sure there are a few of you giggling right now after having flashbacks of our first encounter because you know I’m totally right.
Yes I’m an Osteopath butwhat do I actually do?
I use my hands, as a manual therapist, to diagnose and treat the cause of pain, not just the symptoms. This treatment approach is designed to improve mobility and function and as a result it will reduce pain.
I am guilty of labeling myself as a cross between a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist but there is much more to Osteopathy than meets the eye. It’s true; we do treat pretty much the same conditions however we do it in our own special way.
So is this ‘Osteo’ thing new?
Far from it actually! Physician A.T. Still developed it in 1872. Still believed that the body has the ability to heal itself. He used his knowledge of anatomy and physiology to design a method and treatment approach to assist in resolving pain and ensure long term resolution.
If we look after an open wound by covering it and removing further external trauma the body will naturally heal and repair itself. The theory behind Osteopathy and treating musculoskeletal pain is the same. We just help the healing process and nurture the body to function optimally.
So why are you touching my ankle when it’s my hip that hurts?
Everything is connected and the sooner people understand this, the sooner they will begin to operate as a healthy whole. Nothing works in isolation and by treating the body as a whole unit, taking into account negative contributing factors, it allows us to locate the root cause of the problem and eliminate or modify it. Factors can be internal or external causes, but either way, they need to be identified or treatment will remain symptomatic. Only treating symptoms will result in the patient booking regular appointments for the same issue.
One thing that still remains vivid in my mind from the days of university is this quote from the pioneer of Osteopathy himself, A.T. Still:
‘ To find health should be the objective of the doctor. Anyone can find disease’.
We usually only go to the doctor when something is wrong and it is only if illness or disease can be measured that action will then be taken.
As an Osteo, I am proud to say that we are a health professional that takes pride in creating a positive relationship with our patients. Our number one focus is to help individuals achieve optimal health by assisting them to maintain a good quality of life and prevent disease.
The relationship between an Osteo and patient is very much a partnership that is dependent on each other for ultimate success. It is a partnership that requires active steps to be taken by the patient to improve their health circumstances rather than relying on treatment alone to do the job.
It is hard because although I cannot directly tell if a patient has been doing their stretches or exercise, I do feel that it is my obligation to assign them regardless, as I know they will help in the individual’s recovery. Any exercises prescribed are designed to help maintain the effect of treatment for longer and avoid its return.
You treat children? But how can they have pain already?
Good question! Even these little guys can experience pain! We just don’t always know that they are communicating this with us.
I’ve always said that birth trauma is one of the most physical traumas we’ll ever experience in life. Yes, it is a natural process but it doesn’t always go natures way and man, I’m pretty sure the reason I was hell on earth for my parents was largely due to the bruises, swelling and headache from a forceps delivery. Also, Osteopath’s don’t just treat pain in babies. For example, we can also assist with colic, feeding difficulties, and unsettled behavior. Some of these concerns can have a physical component as a cause.
What? So I don’t need to book in weekly, then fortnightly and then monthly forever?!
Obviously my advice is based on a combination of my education and clinical experience. But NO you do not need to book 100 treatments and most definitely not a pack of 10 just to get your 11thvisit free.
A successful business to me is based on long-term relief, and improved quality of life for everyone that walks through the door- not how many dollars I make.
You should experience a change to your symptoms after the first session and most definitely in no more than 4 treatments. One or more of the following however can normally explain a lack of improvement:
1. The diagnosis is incorrect and therefore the treatment has been applied to the incorrect source of pain.
2. The source of pain is being repeatedly aggravated from work routine and daily movements.
3. The pain being experienced is not musculoskeletal in nature, in which case you will be refereed on to the most relevant health care practitioner.
I’ve had this pain for a year now….
I believe pain is your body’s way of protecting you from harm and unless it’s pain that is life threatening most of us ignore it.
Pain is your body telling you that it is not in a happy place and something needs to change. Pain is your cue to actually listen and take active steps to establish where it’s coming from. Chronic pain is another story, but put simply, just because you’ve had the pain for a year doesn’t mean you have to live with it for life.
Why put up with it? Or at least, let’s find out where it’s coming from so both you and your Osteopath can make a plan of attack to help resolve your pain or find ways to alleviate it.
If you’ve been putting up with pain or not moving as freely as you use to when you were a spring chicken then it’s time to stop letting this go on. I’d highly recommend you check out the AOA website to find your local Osteopath or visit your local doctor and seek appropriate treatment.
Dr Fiona Hooper (Osteopath)