Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine which recognises the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions. Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit. Using skilled evaluation, diagnosis and a wide range of hands-on techniques, osteopaths can identify important types of dysfunction in your body. Osteopathic treatment uses techniques such as stretching and massage for general treatment of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) along with mobilisation of specific joints and soft tissues.
In Australia, Osteopaths are government registered practitioners who complete a minimum of five years’ university training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, general medical diagnosis and osteopathic techniques. Osteopaths are primary healthcare practitioners and are trained to recognise conditions which require medical referral. They are also trained to perform standard medical examinations of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems.
Osteopathy is covered by most private health funds and the Medicare Enhanced Primary Care scheme. Osteopaths are registered providers for workers’ compensation schemes, motor accident insurers and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Who uses Osteopaths?
In a Word Everyone!
Is Osteopathic Treatment Safe?
There’s no such thing as a form of medical treatment which is guaranteed 100% safe in every case. Even the painkillers you buy in the supermarket for a headache may cause severe side effects in some patients. That said, however, Osteopathy has one of the best safety records of any medically-related profession. Osteopaths are trained to recognise any condition that might make Osteopathic treatment inadvisable, and will refer patients for appropriate medical attention in such cases. Just as a Doctor regards safety as the most important factor in selecting the appropriate medication for a particular patient, so an Osteopath will also select the most appropriate style of treatment with safety as the prime consideration. Your osteopath will discuss with you any risk associated with particular treatment.
Do I need a referral to see an osteopath?
The only times you will need a referral are if you wish to consult an Osteopath under Medicare's Enhanced primary care program, the Veterans’ Affairs scheme or for WorkCare in Queensland only. Remember that not all Osteopaths are Veterans' Affairs providers. Otherwise you can simply contact an Osteopath directly.
Who pays? Am I covered?
With the federal government initiative under Medicare Plus, patients with chronic conditions may be referred by their GP for Osteopathic treatment under an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan. Patients under the Veterans' Affairs scheme and the various State WorkCare/WorkCover and Transport Accident compensation schemes have their treatment costs covered by those schemes. (Not all Osteopaths are Veterans' Affairs providers, so you should check before making an appointment.) Partial rebates are available for those members of Private Health Funds with ancillary or "extras" cover, but the amount of rebate and the conditions vary from insurer to insurer, so check the details of your policy.