Osteopathy is about treating bones and joints, right? It’s a common misconception. Osteopaths are holistic health experts – and can assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. Find out how osteopathy can help you achieve your best health.

Patient consulting an osteopath for shoulder pain

Osteopathic treatment: expectation vs. reality

Many people first book to see an osteopath with back, neck or joint pain. They’re often surprised by the encounter for two reasons. 

First, the osteopath asks a lot more questions than they’re expecting. 

Second, the osteopath evaluates and addresses areas of their body distant to where it hurts. 

Why is this? It comes down to osteopathic principles. Osteopathy is founded on the idea that all parts and systems of the body must be working in harmony for optimal health. Pain arises when one part is compromised. This can even be true for injuries – was there a weakness somewhere else that allowed this injury to occur?

The osteopath works like a detective, always keeping two questions in mind:

“Why this problem?”  and “Why at this time?”

The osteopath detective

Let’s take an example to illustrate the point. 

Alex comes into clinic with a painful shoulder. He hasn’t seen an osteopath before. He’s expecting the osteopath to ask questions about his shoulder, examine it, and then manipulate it. Maybe there will be some exercises to take home.

He’s surprised when his osteopath asks about his eating and sleeping habits. Why? Because the osteopath knows that pain from the gastrointestinal system can be referred to the shoulder. The osteopath’s also wondering if Alex’s sleeping position has been compromising the blood flow to the shoulder tendons, putting them at risk of damage. 

The osteopath starts his examination. He tests Alex’s shoulder. But then he moves on.

He feels Alex’s ribcage, since the shoulder blade needs to be able to slide easily over it. Has a recent cough or chest infection affected the way the ribs can move? 

He checks Alex’s pelvis – if there’s a tilt here, the resulting curve will put the shoulder girdle out of kilter, too. Is there a flat foot? Or is he short-sighted? If he’s craning his neck to look at his screen, the nerve function to the shoulder might be affected.

These are just a few examples – there will be many causes an osteopath would consider in a case such as this. An osteopath uses questions to home in on the likely culprits, followed by physical examination to test them out.

Once the osteopath is satisfied that he has established all the factors affecting Alex’s shoulder, he explains his findings. He forms a treatment plan that’s directed at all those factors, whether in the shoulder, the ribs, or the foot.

After a few sessions, Alex’s shoulder pain has gone. But importantly, so have the triggers that caused it. It’s a long-lasting solution.

Finding health, not treating symptoms

Osteopathy, by its fundamental principles, is a holistic approach. The goal of osteopathic treatment is always to facilitate health – then the symptoms take care of themselves.

If you’d like our osteopaths to help you find your best health, book an appointment today.

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No matter whether your condition was caused by a sport injury, work posture or
otherwise, send us a message or give us a call to see how we can help.