Many people don’t understand what osteopathy really is. While some may have heard the word ‘osteopathy’, many are surprised to learn the details of what we actually do. This article will explain five of the biggest misconceptions floating around about what osteopathy is.
“Osteopaths are bone specialist”
“Osteopathy is between a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist”
“Never heard of them, what is it? What do Osteopaths do?”
You may be looking for someone to help you with the pain in your lower back, neck, shoulder or somewhere else. I’m sure you have heard about the different health providers that are available: Chiro, Physio, Massage Therapist, Myotherapist, etc…
But what about Osteo? When questioned about my profession, many people ask me, “What is an Osteopath?” Sometimes people have a vague idea about Osteopathy however many are very surprised to learn what we do.
So, let me explain what an Osteopath does by tackling a few misconceptions about the profession
#1. OSTEOPATHS FOCUS ONLY ON BONES – INCORRECT!
To give you an example, your bones are attached and surrounded by muscles, nerves blood vessels, organs, joints and many other structures. As an Osteopath, we are recognising the important links between these structures of your body & the way they all work together. This practice is what we call: A holistic approach to health care.
In other words, we are not only focusing on one thing but we are looking at everything as a whole system. And when we are saying the whole system, we are also talking about your nutrition, your lifestyle, your emotional and your mental health. Of course, we cannot replace a Nutritionist or a Psychologist, to provide you with a specific diet or psychological plan, but we can give you general advice on diet or stress management. Yes, sometimes what you eat or your stress levels can actually be the source of your issue.
#2. OSTEOPATHS ALWAYS “CRACK” A PATIENT BACK AND NECK – ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Okay, Osteopaths use a range of approaches to enhance body function. Spinal manipulation (commonly referred to as ‘cracking a joint’) is one of those techniques. However, Osteopaths use other techniques including mobilisation, stretching, muscle energy technique, massage, dry needling, myofascial releases, trigger points and more. You will be surprised to know that some Osteopaths are not using spinal manipulation at all. So, if you thought that Osteopath = neck or back “cracking”, it is a wrong misrepresentation of Osteopathic treatment.
#3. OSTEOPATHS ARE ONLY MANUAL THERAPISTS – INCORRECT!
It is true that Osteopathy is a hands-on approach to healthcare. However, as mentioned before, an Osteopathic session can include nutritional advice, lifestyle management, exercise rehabilitation, pain education, workplace strategies focused on ergonomics, sport preparation, injuries management and so much more. Osteopathy is not only a treatment on the table, we do more than what you think, and sometimes it doesn’t solely involve manual therapy. Our practice is based on team work between your practitioner and yourself.
#4. OSTEOPATHS ARE ALTERNATIVE HEALTH PRACTITIONERS, THEY DON’T HAVE THE SAME LEVEL OF EDUCATION COMPARED WITH OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONS – INCORRECT!
I’ve heard this one a few times and it is important to know that all Osteopaths have completed an accredited university training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, general healthcare diagnosis, nutrition, psychology, biomechanics, and osteopathic techniques. It takes us five years to do so and I can tell you it is not easy.
We are capable of performing standard examinations of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems and we are able to recognize conditions that require medical referral. And sometimes, Osteopaths can be part of your health team and work alongside your local GP or Physiotherapist to tackle your specific issue.
Osteopaths are regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and our governing body, Osteopathy Australia. In other words, we are directed by strict guidelines, are government registered and university qualified Allied Health Professionals.
#5. YOU CANNOT GET A HEALTH-REBATE REFUND WITH OSTEOPATHY – INCORRECT!
Osteopaths are registered providers for DVA patients, as well as by state workers’ compensation schemes and motor accident insurers. Osteopathy is covered by most private health funds and by Medicare’s Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Plans. Yes, you can get the rebate through medicare depending on your specific circumstances or through your private health funds.