Saturday, 15 December 2012

Osteopathic Treatment in Australia - FAQs

Amber Laris is an Australian osteopath who has been treating patients in her osteopathic clinic in the heart of the Adelaide CBD for over 30 years. If you have further questions about what is involved in osteopathic treatment, or would like to find out more about the benefits to health and well-being of osteopathy, contact Amber Laris on (08) 8221 6100 or visit her website

To download this article as a PDF, click here

What types of illness, injury or discomfort is osteopathic therapy suitable for?
While osteopathy is highly effective at treating specific complaints and conditions, in particular musculoskeletal problems, it also addresses a wide range of general health problems and conditions.   As osteopathic therapy is holistic, it also seeks to address your general well-being as well as treating particular injuries.

What parts of the body does an osteopath treat?
An osteopath treats almost any structure in the body (e.g. joint, muscle, tendon) that, through injury, misuse or deterioration, is not functioning effectively and is causing pain, discomfort or stress.

What does osteopathic treatment consist of?
Osteopathic treatment may involve: soft tissues being massaged; joints being articulated or mobilised; muscles being exercised through stretching and resistance; or visceral techniques, i.e., the gentle and rhythmic manipulation of internal organs.  All of these techniques are aimed at restoring balance and stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

What is Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment (OMT)?
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) involves precise amounts of physical pressure being gently applied to specific locations on the body, perhaps the affected area but also possibly at another point.  OMT may sometimes require a short, forceful movement called a high-velocity thrust, when you might hear a clicking or popping noise.  This is not painful and is entirely normal and to be expected.

Is osteopathic treatment painful?
Osteopathic manipulation and treatment is not painful, although there can sometimes be feelings of discomfort as an injured part of the body is manipulated.  Alternatively, you might experience a mild soreness immediately following a treatment session in the same way as you might after physical exercise.

Is osteopathy suitable for pregnant women?
Osteopathy is suitable for pregnant women, many of whom find it beneficial as means of reducing back pain.

Can osteopathy help to prevent injury?
If you are involved in activity that places undue stress on your body (e.g. high impact sports, or a job that involves a lot of manual labour), osteopathic treatment can help to prevent you from developing problems.  

For further information on the ways in which osteopathy can restore your sense of well-being, click here.

What can I expect at the beginning of a course of treatment?
At the outset of a course of treatment, your osteopath will require information regarding your medical history (including any accidents or traumas), lifestyle and overall sense of well-being, as well as the more precise nature of your complaint.  They may also wish to test your coordination and reflexes, and your blood pressure.  This will then be followed by a thorough physical examination that will explore your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Your osteopath may also want to test the flexibility of your arms, legs and back, and will also look carefully at your spine, perhaps examining your posture and balance.

How many sessions will I need?
After an initial examination, your osteopath will decide upon a personalised treatment plan and will share with you the process as well as the outcomes that can be expected as the treatment progresses, alongside an expected timeframe for the treatment.  It might be that only a few osteopathic sessions are necessary, perhaps followed by an occasional check-up, or your osteopath may recommend a regular course of treatment.

For further information on what to expect from osteopathic treatment, click here.

What training and qualifications do osteopaths have?

An osteopath in Australia is required to undergo a minimum of five years’ training, which consists usually of a Bachelor degree followed by a Masters degree.  As part of their training, an osteopath in Australia will undertake studies in a wide variety of disciplines.  

Are osteopaths registered?
All osteopaths in Australia are registered with the Osteopathy Board of Australia (in association with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and a registered osteopath is able to practise in all Australian states and territories.  Osteopaths are also required to undertake programmes of continuing professional development in order to ensure that the osteopathic healthcare services they provide are delivered to the highest possible standard.

For further information on training and qualifications of osteopaths in Australia, click here.

Do I need a GP referral to visit an osteopath?

Osteopaths in Australia are classified as primary healthcare professionals, which means that they are qualified to diagnose and treat patients without the need for a prior referral from a general practitioner (although see below re: Medicare and osteopathy).

Can I claim a Medicare rebate for treatment by an osteopath?

If you have a chronic condition (e.g. a long-standing musculoskeletal condition), you are eligible for a Medicare rebate on five sessions of osteopathic treatment, provided your condition is being managed by a GP who has provided you with MBS Chronic Disease Management services as part of a GP Management Plan (GPMP) and Team Care Arrangements (TCAs). 

Can I claim for osteopathic treatment on my private health insurance?

Most private health funds in Australia will offer either a form of ancillary or extras cover that will either entitle you to a set number of osteopathic treatment sessions throughout a calendar year (depending on the level of cover), or will make a contribution towards the cost of osteopathic treatment sessions, up to an agreed amount.

For further information on Medicare rebates and private health cover for osteopathic treatment, click here.