FAQs Osteopathy – We ask our Osteopath Josh what some of the most FAQs are that he gets in the treatment room.
Dr Josh Boak (Osteopath)
What is Osteopathy?
Let’s start off with probably the most common question I get asked whether it’s in the treatment room or whether my hairdresser is asking about what I do for work. Everyone has a slightly different way of answering this question because Osteo itself is such a broad discipline. In general, Osteo boasts a holistic approach to treatment. This means that we will look at how movement at sites away from your pain may be affecting your presenting complaint (eg: how the knee moves in relation to the hip and ankle). In addition, we take into account how different body systems can affect pain such as the influence of the nervous system, mental health or even diet.
Whilst these things all make Osteo unique, it still comes under the umbrella of manual therapy which means that there is a lot of grey area between us and other practitioners (eg: Physio, Myo, Chiro etc.). You’ll find that there can often be more difference between individual practitioners than there is between the professions overall!
What is the difference between manipulation performed by you, and me cracking my own back?
I’ll often have patients ask me whether its ok for them to be cracking their own back or neck and what the difference is between having an Osteopath perform this technique or them performing it themselves. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend self manipulation, it is very unlikely to cause you any harm in most cases. Osteopaths are trained to understand when manipulation is safe or unsafe to minimize potential risks to you. Your practitioner will also be very specific with their manipulation, targeting certain joints to help improve range of motion overall. Finally, as I discussed in a previous blog https://www.movebeyond.com.au/osteopathy/snap-crackle-pop-the-ins-and-outs-of-manipulation-in-treatment/manipulation is at its best when used with other techniques.
Why am I in pain?
This is the most important question I get asked. It is vital that you understand exactly what is causing your pain and how treatment/rehab will impact it. Obviously, the answer to this question will differ depending on the presentation but in general your pain will fit into one of two groups. Either there will be a specific condition or tissue that is injured (eg: a rolled ankle) or it will be non-specific, meaning that there are several factors influencing your overall pain. If you haven’t asked your practitioner this question OR you just aren’t sure then ask them in your next appointment! We’re always happy to clarify.
How frequently should I expect to see you?
Similar to the above question, this one is specific to the individual and condition, but rest assure your Osteopath will be able to tell you a rough timeline of treatment to help achieve your health outcomes. Most Osteos will tend to treat in weekly blocks which allows enough time for us to gauge change between treatments and let your body do some healing. As your complaint improves we will tend to start increasing the time between appointments until you are fully resolved. That amount of time is dependant on your specific complaint, tissue healing times, stressors (eg: how often do you sit at a desk) and transition into movement based activities like home exercises or pilates.
Why does pain refer when you are treating a trigger point?
Pain can often be experienced in sites distant to where we are treating. For example you will occasionally experience pain at the base of your skull when we are treating through the neck and shoulders. This can be due to a couple of things:
- Pain can refer along the length of a muscle to its attachment sites when a tight part of the muscle is being treated.
- Pain can refer dependant on which nerves a structure is supplied by. If two muscles share a common nerve, pain can refer from one to the other. Referral can happen between all kinds of structures, whether they be muscles, joints or even organs. Fun fact: The shoulder, arm, parts of the neck, heart and diaphragm all share a similar nerve supply! This is why so much referral pain is experienced during cardiac arrest.
How long did you spend studying to become an Osteo?
It depends on the university but most Osteopaths will spend between 4 and a half and 5 years at University. I studied at Victoria University which means I did 3 years of my Bachelor and 2 of my Masters. Students spend most of their time during the Masters either in the student clinic, on placement or doing research so that by the time we graduate we have almost 2 years of clinical experience.
Whether you are new to seeing an Osteopath or you have been seeing one for years it’s always important to keep asking questions. It’s vital that you have a complete understanding of your care to help you MOVE THROUGH LIFE so if you’re ever unsure about something, would like us to clarify a concept or are just curious always feel free to ask!