I get asked this question all the time, whether it’s from new patients who’ve been recommended to me, people I meet in business or even my friends and family. In Australia, Osteopathy is a registered health care profession, albeit one of the smallest going around. There are only about 2400 of us working across Australia. An osteopath sees people with aches and pains that stem from problems with the body. We treat muscles, joints and bones with a variety of hands on therapeutic techniques. The jargon boffin in me would describe osteopathy as a system of musculoskeletal medicine with its practitioners holding proficiency in manual examination, diagnosis and treatment for neuromusculoskeletal issues.
What that means is we pride ourselves on being able to tell what’s wrong with you and being able to do something useful about it. Osteopaths place a premium on the skill of clinical reasoning, which is the ability to tease out the relevant details of a person’s story as to how they’ve become injured and weave them into a treatment plan that might involve bits and pieces of therapy as distinct as massage, manipulation of joints, exercise prescription, pain education or even some forms of counselling about injury and stress management. Importantly, in Australia osteopaths work as part of primary care- meaning that you can see one without a referral and trust that they will know what to do with you if your problem falls within their remit (the nerves, muscles, joints and bones described above) and that they will know what to do with you if you need to see somebody else about your problem, like a GP, a specialist, or a psychologist. In reality, if you are sore or feeling out of sorts with your body, then a trip to the osteopath is a great option.
You can find good osteopaths through the Osteopathy Australia directory: http://www.osteopathy.org.au/find_osteopath.php
Osteopathy Australia is the professional body advocating for Osteopathy within Australia. Member osteopaths must be government registered, meet high professional standards and complete annual continuing professional education to practice. You need to feel comfortable with the practitioner you see and able to discuss your personal history regarding your issues and a little bit of your medical history as well. Make sure that your osteopath takes the time to explain to you what they think is going on, how long they think it will take to get better and what types of treatment they suggest before starting with therapy. You can find other hints and tips on finding a great practitioner on the above website.
Dr Edward Clark – 9553 9823