What Is An Osteopath and What Do They Treat
For those of you who are confused as to What Is An Osteopath and What Do They Treat, I made a call to the main representative body for Osteopathy here in Australia, aptly named Osteopathy Australia and I interviewed Irina Aristova and found out the answers to some commonly asked questions asked Osteopathy.
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy addresses the important connection between our body’s structure and its various functions. They use manual therapy to treat their patients.
Osteopaths address all components of our bodies together, as a functioning holistic unit. All parts of our body from the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs work together.
What this means it that if you were to visit an Osteopaths for a musculoskeletal such as a sore ankle, your Osteopath would assess not only your injured ankle, but also all the connecting tissues that attach to your ankle. As these tissues affect the positioning and strength of your ankle.
Osteopathy is a profession that is regulated under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The Osteopathy Board of Australia (OBA) sits withing AHPRA and its job is to ensure that the public is protected.
For an Osteopath to be able to register under the AHPRA they must receive proper recognize training and practice in a safe, competent and ethical manner at all times.
How many different types of Osteopathy are there?
There are no variant forms whatsoever. Osteopaths are able to identify important types of dysfunction in your body through skilled evaluation, and an extensive range of hands-on techniques, which allows them to diagnose and treat the problem.
Your Osteopath may use a variety of treatment techniques, such as massaging and stretching for soft tissues,(muscles, tendons and ligaments) problems and injuries. This included the mobilisation of specific joints and soft tissues.
How long does it take to become a certified Osteopath?
Osteopaths have different regulations in different countries. Here in Australia to become a registered practitioner an Osteopath must complete a minimum of five years training and study at university in all the following areas; – pathology, physiology, general medical diagnosis and of course osteopathic techniques. Graduates hold either a double Bachelors or a Masters qualifications. All Osteopaths have been trained and are able to perform a standard medical exam of the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Being primary healthcare practitioners an Osteopath is trained to recognise when a condition require referring onto another medical professional.
Just with other healthcare professionals, Osteopaths must continue to learn, maintain, update and develop their skills continually, even once qualified.
For instance Osteopathy Australia supports their members in their lifelong learning. They offer various professional development activities.
By law all Osteopaths here in Australia must be official government registered practitioners. Never receive treatment from an Osteopath who is not officially registered.
What is the difference between a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist and an Osteopath?
First the similarities.
All three are recognised under government regulation as separate allied health professions and all three are trained in university .
Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists all treat musculoskeletal conditions and problems, but they each work with different underlying treatment philosophies to solve those problems. Although many techniques are commonly used by all.
Now the differences.
Osteopathic care’s key focus is to look at the whole body, its structure and how the muscles, bones, ligaments, blood supply etc. function and work together. It is a holistic focused treatment as opposed to just solely focusing on the injury or problem area. Osteopaths train to assess, diagnose and treat patients to reduce pain and injuries with the aim to help the body function well. Depending on the problem osteopaths will use stretching, soft tissue techniques such as massage, gentle joint articulation and manipulation, and other techniques.
The Chiropractic Association of Australia defines chiropractic as focusing on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine, and pelvis) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association defines physiotherapy as a profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats through physical means. They look at movement and function and work with patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders.
What conditions does Osteopathy treat?
Osteopaths treat a wide variety of health problems, they actually treat a wide range of conditions, including those of the musculoskeletal system, vascular system, nervous system and visceral (organ) systems. The most commons issues they treat are: neck and back pain, sports injuries, headaches, postural problems, occupational injuries, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, arthritis, knee and foot pain.
Osteopathic treatment will vary from person to person, as each injury and problem is unique.
Osteopaths focus on how your skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulatory system, connective tissue and internal organs function as a whole body unit.
When you visit an Osteopath, he will first ask questions about your problem and symptoms. He may also ask about your medical history, any medications you are taking, as well as factors that may not appear to be directly related to your problem.
It is important to inform your Osteopath if you medical condition changes between appointments.
What conditions can’t Osteopaths treat?
Anything that is outside their Scope of Practice. Mainly osteopaths concentrate on musculoskeletal issues. Osteopaths may also refer their patients to other health professionals, including GPs.
Who founded Osteopathy?
It is considered that Andrew Taylor Still is a pioneer of osteopathy.
In 1874, Andrew Taylor Still MD DO (1828-1917), a medical doctor living on the Missouri frontier, discovered the significance of living anatomy in health and disease. Dr Still realized that optimal health is possible only when all of the tissues and cells of the body function together in harmonious motion. He reasoned that disease could have its origins in slight anatomical deviation from normal. He then proved he could restore health by treating the body with his hands, naming his innovative approach to restoring health: Osteopathy. He understood that the human body is composed of many parts, all intimately related as a functional whole. More than a hundred years ago, Dr Still realized that the human being is more than just a physical body. He envisioned a totally new medical system that acknowledges the relationships of the body, mind, emotions and spirit. As a practicing physician Dr Still diligently researched and developed osteopathy. He developed a very practical way of treating people using just his hands. Today, osteopaths continue to use their hands to treat their patients in this same tradition.
In the late 1800s none of today’s miracle drugs, such as antibiotics, were available. Out of necessity, Dr Still looked first to nature’s own ability to heal and found a way to access this ability within the body. Still saw this self-correcting potential as a cornerstone of his osteopathic philosophy.
Today osteopathy has grown as a recognised allied health, with a combination of traditional methods and modern scientific philosophies. When combined with appropriate use of present day medical therapeutics, osteopathy offers a profound contribution to the practice of health. Osteopathy has been practiced in Australia for over 100 years and has been taught in universities since the early 1980’s.
Scientific studies on Osteopathic Treatment to support healing outcomes
The following are a few links to the research papers that demonstrate some effectiveness and cost efficiency of using manual therapies in a diversity of settings. It is also important to understand that as a smaller profession osteopathy academics do not get access to the millions of dollars of research funding or the ease of using hospital stays as part of clinical research as easily as other professions.
- Cost-Effectiveness of Manual Therapy for the Management of Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials
Summary: Preliminary evidence from this review shows some economic advantage of manual therapy relative to other interventions used for the management of musculoskeletal conditions, indicating that some manual therapy techniques may be more cost-effective than usual GP care, spinal stabilization, GP advice, advice to remain active, or brief pain management for improving low back and shoulder pain/disability.
- Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for nonspecific low back pain (LBP: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Summary: Clinically relevant effects of OMT were found for reducing pain and improving functional status in patients with acute and chronic nonspecific LBP and for LBP in pregnant and postpartum women at 3 months post treatment.
- Manipulative therapy in addition to usual medical care accelerates recovery of shoulder complaints at higher costs: economic outcomes of a randomized trial
Manipulative therapy in addition to usual medical care accelerates recovery and is more effective than UMC alone on the long term, but is associated with higher costs.
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