What does an osteopath do?

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career profile- osteopathy

Osteopathy is field in allied healthcare that deals with the musculoskeletal system. Osteopathy works on the principle that the body is capable of healing itself through various techniques that help to improve mobility, alleviate pain and help individuals feel healthy and fit.

Job description

An osteopath undergoes specialised training that enables them to perform techniques such as massage, traction and manipulation of various ligaments, joints, muscles and tendons. These different techniques are used to help the body heal itself from all kinds of aches, pains and other problems. Osteopaths believe that if the body works together as a whole, it will get rid of any obstacles that hinder good health and help the body to get back into functioning smoothly.

Inside the osteopath’s clinic

The first thing that an osteopath does during a first visit is to take a detailed history of the patient. They then ask the patient to lie down and conduct a thorough physical examination. Palpation is often used to determine which parts of the body are in pain. The spine, shoulders and pelvis of the patient are also observed in order to establish whether they are symmetrical or if there are any aberrations.

After taking the patient’s history and conducting the palpation, the osteopath first determines whether or not osteopathic treatment is suitable. If the practitioner determines that the osteopathic treatment will not be appropriate, the patient is referred to another physician, usually a GP or a physiotherapist.

If the practitioner thinks that osteopathy can help the patient, a treatment plan is devised. Some techniques that may be included in this plan are stretching, manipulation, traction, massaging, muscle energy techniques and pumping techniques amongst others.

In some cases, the patient may only be called in for one or two more sessions while in other cases, the osteopath may call the patient back for multiple sessions. Usually, the osteopath will decide after a couple of sessions whether the treatment is working and then inform the patient accordingly. If the original treatment isn’t working, they may suggest new treatments or an entirely different approach.

What patients do osteopaths treat?

Osteopaths treat patients from across all ages, ranging from children to adults. They often also treat pregnant women in order to help them deal with their back pain during childbirth.

These professionals treat a wide array of conditions ranging from headaches, neck aches and back aches to asthma, sciatica, joint pain and menstrual problems. They also treat problems like arthritis and sports injuries. Some osteopaths even treat people who suffer from chronic fatigue.

Required qualifications & training

You will need to complete a 5-year, full-time Bachelor of Science – Clinical Science/Master of Health Science – Osteopathy double degree programme in order to be able to work in this field. Osteopathic programmes are offered at RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University) and Southern Cross University.

Though not compulsory, registering with the Australian Osteopathic Association is recommended. This is an organisation that oversees and supports osteopathy professionals. Those who have finished their five-year double degree in this field are qualified to work as full-time osteopaths.



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