Osteopaths are primary health care practitioners who recognise the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions. Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine which facilitates healing by focusing on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs work together.
Osteopathy is a holistic form of healthcare, where the focus is on improving or restoring the health and wellbeing of the individual, helping the body’s overall ability to adapt and respond to physical stressors. This approach means that osteopathy can support the body through many chronic conditions alongside conventional medical care, and while it won’t cure the disorder, can help the body function as best possible easing associated problems.
Osteopaths can identify dysfunction in the body using skilled evaluation and diagnosis including a broad range of hands-on techniques. Treatments involve techniques like stretching and massage, along with mobilisation and manipulation of joints depending on the unique needs of the patient on that particular day. This means that no two osteopathic treatments are ever the same.
Osteopaths in New Zealand are held to a high standard by the regulating body The Osteopathic Council of New Zealand who operate under the Health Practitioners Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act). This means that osteopaths are held to the same standards as doctors, nurses, chiropractors, physiotherapists and numerous other health professions.
The difference between osteopathic and conventional training is that the focus is on the body as a whole, instead of breaking the body down into separate parts. The human body is constantly working to maintain a state of balanced function and unity. Just like a machine, if one component is out of place or faulty the whole machine is affected.
So, osteopaths not only seek to discover WHAT is wrong, but also WHY is is not right. We appreciate that each person is unique so we are always looking to understand all factors that contribute to a persons physical state including their lifestyle, medical history, diet, emotional factors and injuries, present and historical.
From the moment Osteopaths begin their training the start to develop a highly honed sense of touch which allows them to pick up on dysfunction in the body with the gentlest of touch.
Osteopaths are trained to identify conditions that require medical referral and work with other health professionals including doctors, medical specialists and radiologists in order to provide the best care for their patients. We are also registered ACC providers, accessible without a referral from your doctor.
Any osteopath in New Zealand has completed five years of university training in anatomy, pathology, physiology, general medical diagnosis, osteopathic techniques and clinical training as part of a their degree. They must undertake more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques and at minimum if 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.
What To Expect On Your First Visit
When you visit your osteopath no two treatments will be the same, osteopaths have a vast array of techniques and skills that they can tailor specifically to suit the patient on that day.
An initial consultation takes 60 minutes, here's what to expect:
A big smile and cheery hello. Then we start chatting, discussing what brought you to see me in the first place, any other symptoms you might have and your medical history. Sometimes things can seem irrelevant, or "that happened ages ago" but the body works in mysterious ways - the more information I have the better I can piece together the unique puzzle that is you!
Next up we do a physical assessment, which includes observing how you move, testing range of motion of various joints and the spine, some orthopaedic or neurological tests as required. You may need to remove some clothing for this, so wear comfy underwear or easy to move in clothes (such as shorts, leggings, singlet).
At this point we talk about what I think is going on with you, and treatment can start. This may include some of the following: hands on massage, muscular stretching, joint mobilisation or manipulation, gentle work to viscera, cranial osteopathy and possibly some kinesiotaping. Some people chat, some people dooze off, it all depends on what works for you.
I have found that many people are not very aware of their body, and so will often spend time trying to show, explain and educate you on how your body works, what is happening and why. This also helps make any advice make sense. Advice can include stretching, strengthening exercises or general lifestyle suggestions to help with rehabilitation, recovery and general wellbeing.
Most ailments will need a few treatments - but this depends on how complex your presenting complaint is and how complex your health history is! We can discuss this at your appointment, and schedule regular appointments that decrease in frequency over time as you recover to full health.
It is also common (and useful) to visit your osteopath regularly for an overall tune up, to nip any niggles in the bud before they become big issues. The frequency of these visits can vary depending on circumstance for each individual.
You can also check out the fees schedule here.