Osteopathy is one of ten regulated healthcare professions in Australia (AHPRA). It has been practised in Australia for over 100 years and more than 75 000 Australians visit an osteopath each year. Osteopaths must be registered with the Osteopathy Board of Australia and patients can check their osteopath’s registration online.
To become an osteopath, 5 years fulltime tertiary study is the minimum requirement. Subjects studied include anatomy, physiology, pathology, radiology, neuroscience and general healthcare diagnosis. After becoming qualified, osteopaths must maintain their professional development and accreditation compliance annually.
Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment based on the theory that when the body’s musculoskeletal system is not properly aligned, it inhibits circulatory, lymphatic or nervous system function and therefore reduces the body’s ability to heal itself.
Osteopaths focus on your neuro-musculoskeletal system – the bones, muscles, nerves and other tissues that support your body and control its movements. Some common ailments that osteopaths treatment may help with include:
- headaches and migraines
- sporting injuries
- neck, shoulder and back pain
- repetitive strain and overuse injuries
- pre and post birth support
- chronic pain
Treatment involves the application of a number of techniques including:
- MET (Muscle Energy Technique) – gentle resistance muscle stretching to release muscle spasm and improve motion and function
- HVLA (High Velocity, Low Amplitude) manipulation – a quick stretch through the joint capsule which may result in a “cracking” sound to improve range of motion through the joint
- Articulation – repetitive, passive joint mobilisation to break down scarring and fibrous tissue and release tension/improve drainage
- Counterstrain – passive shortening of a muscle to release tension around a trigger point and return to its normal length and tension
- Soft tissue massage – to relax and lengthen muscles and tight fascial structures
- Visceral manipulation – gentle movement of the abdominal and pelvic areas
As osteopathic techniques include a gentle approach, they can be suitable for many people, from young children to the older person, and for those with complex medical problems.
In appropriate cases, infants and children for example, treatment is limited to extremely gentle techniques.