Osteopathy is a type of manual medicine

We treat the same sorts of conditions as physiotherapists and chiropractors (and many massage therapists). Like those other professions we work on people’s aches, pains and injuries using hands on manual therapies, like massage, mobilisation and manipulation. We also prescribe exercises and give advice on posture, movement and lifestyle.

Osteopaths in Australia are registered health professionals who do 5 years of university training. In addition, they are required to do continuing professional skills development and many develop special interests and skills in particular areas.

The profession is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Osteopathic Board of Australia. The peak body is called Osteopathy Australia: http://www.osteopathy.org.au/

The philosophy of osteopathy

At the heart of osteopathic philosophy is the idea that to heal the body we must optimise its natural functions and its structure.

The modern osteopath might do this by addressing important functions such as walking, posture, breathing, balance, movement patterns and muscle use during activities of daily living. They also look at how structural elements of the muscular and skeletal system  might be contributing to a person’s pain and health problem and correct these where possible.

Other key philosophical principles are:

The parts of the body make up a unified whole

Osteopaths rarely only treat the area in which symptoms are evident. They look for the inter-relationships between different parts of the body, and try to positively influence whole body patterns through hands-on manual therapy and exercise prescription.

The body has many self-regulating processes that should be supported for healing

An osteopath might encourage you to improve your body’s self-regulating processes by advising you on exercise, breathing, relaxation, diet and lifestyle.  In conditions such as chronic pain an osteopath would consider psycho-social factors and advise you on how to work with these to improve your ability to cope, manage activities and reduce pain.

Structure affects the body's function

The muscular-skeletal system of the body is one of the most important body systems. It impacts on how well we move and function.

Osteopaths might treat any part of the skeletal structure, including the head, jaw, spine, rib cage, pelvis and limbs. They also work on muscles and other tissue such as ligaments and connective tissue to reduce pain and improve movement and function. The need to optimize structure might also be addressed in other ways for example by referral to a dental practitioner to improve jaw symmetry and size, to a strength and conditioning coach to build up muscle strength or to a yoga practitioner to gain flexibility.

Research into Osteopathy: www.osteopathic-research.com

International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine – IJOM: www.journalofosteopathicmedicine.com/home

 What happens when you have osteopathic treatment?

First appointment

History and Examination

The first appointment lasts for about 60 minutes to allow adequate time to understand your current complaint, your overall health history and to perform physical examination and tests.


The results of the history and examination are discussed with you and together we make a treatment plan.  In some cases treatment can start in the first session. However, sometimes treatment does not begin until the follow up appointment or you may be refered to another practitioner.

Subsequent treatment

Subsequent treatments can be scheduled for 30 or 60 minutes. These treatments may involve hands-on manual therapy or supervised exercises. During ongoing treatment your progress is monitored to see if there needs to be an modification of the treatment plan.

Is referral necessary?

Referrals from doctors and other health professionals are welcomed but not essential. If you have been referred please bring details of your referring practitioner and any letters they may give you.

You are encouraged to keep your GP and other health practitioners informed. With your permission an evaluation and treatment report can be sent to your other health providers, so that we can co-operate in your care.

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