As osteopaths, part of our job is to educate people about the benefits of osteopathy and the ailments it can treat. Often common misconceptions can exist and so we would like to take this opportunity to debunk some of these myths and let you know the variety of ways we can help.
Myth#1 “Osteopathy is just for backs”
One of the most common misconceptions out there is that osteopaths just treat back pain. Whilst back pain is the number one complaint that most osteopaths deal with, we treat pain all over the body. Osteopaths can treat a wide range of conditions including headaches, neck and shoulder pain, arthritic pain, hip, knee and ankle pain, as well as other conditions like vertigo, sciatica and pregnancy-related pain.
Myth#2 “Osteopaths just treat bones?”
You can be forgiven for thinking that an osteopath would specialise in treating bones. After all, the word ‘osteo’ comes from classical Greek meaning ‘bone’. Osteopathy founder, Andrew Taylor Still, even used to advertise his services as a ‘bonesetter’ (a person who would relocate dislocations and fractures). So, anyone who has done a bit of reading around the history of osteopathy may have come across these phrases and be led down the wrong path. But times have changed, and one of the fundamental principles of osteopathy is that the body is a unit and needs to be treated as a whole in order to get well again. Yes, we treat problems associated with the bones, but we also treat joints and muscles and much more. But when we treat these areas, we are treating all of the systems of the body. Our treatments aim to affect the blood, nerves and other connected systems in the body to restore balance and promote health. So in a nutshell, we treat all parts and systems of the body to make you whole again!
Myth#3 “Osteos, physios and chiros all the same”
We commonly get asked what the difference is between osteopathy and other therapies like physiotherapy and chiropractic. We all treat the body with the same goal in mind – to help someone in need and improve their health with musculoskeletal issues. We can all treat similar conditions, and we all use similar techniques to do so. Within each profession you will always get some practitioners who lean towards a particular specialty, condition or area of the body they like to treat. Where we differ most is in the philosophy and approach of our treatments. Osteopaths are very holistic in their approach to treating the body. We always treat with the entire person in mind. The bottom line is, it doesn’t’t matter if someone is an osteo, chiro or physio, if they are good, they can all help you improve your life. We prefer osteopathy because we feel if offers the patient the entire package. But come and find out for yourself!
Myth#4 “Osteopaths crack your back”
This is not necessarily so. Yes, we are skilled in the art of manipulation (or ‘cracking’) of joints and will use it (with your permission) if we feel it is necessary. Osteopathy is so much more than just cracking. We are proud of our toolkit when it comes to treating the body. We spend 4-5 years studying at university to become an osteopath, and we learn lots of amazing techniques along the way. There is every possibility you will receive a treatment from an osteopath without the hint of a crack. There are some conditions where cracking is not suitable. We know what to ask and what to look for to know when manipulation is or is not required. If you are worried or concerned about anything to do with treatment, our best advice is to simply ask your practitioner and have a discussion about it. We guarantee they will ease your mind. And it is always your choice if we manipulate or not!
Myth#5 “Osteopathic treatment hurts”
When it comes to having your body treated by another person’s hands, it can sometimes leave you anxious about what to expect. Being treated by an osteopath should not be a painful experience. Many of our techniques are incredibly gentle and our aim is to reduce your pain, not increase it. Yes, there are certain techniques we perform which can be uncomfortable. For example having deep hip flexor muscles released can create some discomfort to address the cause but again this should be a discomfort not a pain. If anything is painful during treatment, always tell your practitioner. There is a good chance we will know by the look on your face, but open communication is always best.
Like any treatment you receive from any health professional, do your research, always ask questions, and ensure you feel safe and comfortable, communicate your needs and evaluate your progress.
We hope this blog has been able to debunk some of the misconceptions surrounding osteopathy as a profession., If you have any questions or need help with pain, please do not hesitate to come and see us, or give us a call today on 8774 9600 and we can discuss it with you over the phone. – we love to help.