What is an osteopath?
A Definition of Osteopathy and Osteopathic Treatment
An osteopath is trained in osteopathy - a form of manual therapy that focuses on overall body health and wellbeing by treating imbalances and weaknesses of the musculoskeletal framework. Osteopaths work with not only the spine, but all areas of the body. Osteopathic treatment is directed to muscles, joints and connective tissue which reduces pain, improves postural balance, and aims to enhance the healing capacity of the body by promoting optimal blood flow, healthy nervous system tone, and lymphatic drainage.
Osteopaths are sometimes known as the ‘mechanics’ of the body because they work in a very physical -- and almost mechanical way -- by using their hands to identify and treat different types of dysfunction in the body.
Osteopathic treatment techniques may include stretching, soft-tissue massage, joint mobilisation, occasionally joint manipulation, and very subtle (cranial or biodynamic) techniques. Treatment plan and application of treatment is developed specifically for each person and presenting complaint.
Osteopaths in Australia complete a minimum of 5 years' university training and studies in anatomy, pathology, physiology, general medical diagnosis, and osteopathic techniques. They are registered with the government as osteopathic practitioners.
Osteopathy is a holistic (whole body) approach to health care.
Osteopathy is a holistic form of manual therapy, which encompasses much more than simply massage and joint manipulation for treating a specific injury or ailment.
It is a philosophy based on four basic principles, which together collectively state that the body functions as a whole and has the ability to self-heal.
Osteopathic care is directed to the whole body, aiming to bring about flexibility and postural alignment, optimal blood flow and healthy neural (nervous system) tone -- all of which provide an optimum opportunity for self-healing and wellness.
The Four Principles of Osteopathy:
The Osteopathic Philosophy embraces the idea of the unity of structure and function through four main principles:
- The body is a unit, and the person represents a combination of body, mind and spirit.
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance.
- Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
- Rational treatment is based on an understanding of these principles: body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
What conditions does osteopathy treat?
Infants and Children
Note: Osteopathic treatment uses no more pressure than would be used when holding or dressing a baby, and is delivered with the aim of keeping the baby comfortable and calm throughout.
- Osteopaths assess and treat strains within in the face, tongue, jaw, neck and head to support babies who are having difficulty breastfeeding
- Osteopathic treatment for babies can help get their neck moving better
- Babies who have difficult births because of shoulder dystocia may benefit from osteopathic treatment
- Falls when learning to sit, climb and walk and may create muscle strain
- Some babies don’t crawl in the normal way
- Osteopaths can assess and treat physical strain in the irritable baby
- Physical strain, such as muscle tension and joint restrictions are often associated with asthma and recurrent respiratory infections
- In-toeing (turning in of feet) / out-toeing (turning out of feet) is caused by a change in position of the foot, lower leg or thigh
- Growing pains may be the result of muscle strain and fatigue
- Osteopaths can assess and treat minor strains and sprains resulting from injury
- Headaches are common in children and adolescents, and can be caused my many things
- Pelvic instability
- Pubic pain
- Low back / pelvic pain
- Carpal tunnel / wrist pain
- Neck / shoulder pain
- Preparation for labor
- Induction massage - by our aromatherapist
- Lymphatic drainage / fluid relief
- Recovery post-birth
- Low back pain / sciatica
- Neck pain / headaches
- Postural concerns
- Hip / knee / ankle / foot pain
- RSI / carpal tunnel / wrist forearm pain
- Shoulder pain
- Jaw pain
- Acute joint sprains / sports injury
- Chronic pain management
- Rehabilitation post-surgery
- Amatuer and professional sportspeople
What does an osteopath actually do?
Osteopaths provide treatment to the physical body structure with their hands. Treatment is directed to specific areas, specific for each person and presentation.
The object of osteopathic care is to promote health in the body. The osteopath does this using soft tissue massage, joint articulation, some joint manipulation and very subtle (cranial or biodynamic) techniques. These techniques release tension and strain in the muscles, ligaments and joints of the body. This process is sometimes accompanied by a release of emotional stress.
The releasing of body tension aims to improvesblood flow and lymphatic drainage throughout the body, making it easier for tissues and organs to return to a state of balance and healthy function.
All osteopaths treat bodies differently. Our Melbourne osteopaths use a combination of approaches -- the most gentle (using no more pressure than when holding or dressing a baby) when providing osteopathy for babies and young children.
For adults and athletes, joint mobilisation, inhibition and gentle osteopathic manipulation, along with soft tissue stretching aims to improve strength, elasticity, mobility and performance for active bodies.
What to expect from your osteopathic session:
Your first consultation will include a comprehensive case history followed by an assessment of your posture, muscle tone and flexibility, joint range of motion, spinal alignment and pelvic balance to determine the cause of pain or illness.
For babies and children, consultations include a comprehensive case history followed by an assessment of reflexes, posture, symmetry and movement.
Osteopathic diagnosis is made and explained to you, along with the proposed treatment.
With your consent, the osteopath then applies treatment with their hands using soft tissue massage, joint articulation, some joint manipulation and very subtle (cranial or biodynamic) techniques. Exercise prescription often follows, and is important to prolong the effects of treatment and assist long term pain relief, recovery and rehabilitation.
Most of our patients report feeling quite relaxed and refreshed at the end of their osteopathic session. You may feel tired and a bit sleepy even. This is a good sign! You may want to go home and rest to allow your body to integrate the treatment.
Our osteopaths use creative thinking and clinical reasoning based on 5 years university training plus years of clinical experience to develop treatment approaches for the person, not the problem. Our work stays interesting, fun and enjoyable ….! and our patients receive the best treatment to resolve their concern.
Read more about our osteopaths here.
If you have any questions please call us on 03 9687 3040, or make an appointment using our secure online booking tool.