Osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic are all hands-on manual medicines which aim to help people with their aches and pains. If you watched an osteo, physio or chiro working they may even look the same. There would be a patient on a table with a practitioner offering manual hands-on therapy. So why would you choose osteopathy? What makes it different to what you have tried before?

Osteopaths in Australia work in private practice and the majority of private health insurance providers cover treatment. The federal government also funds osteopathic care when the patient is referred by a GP. Australian osteopaths undertake a minimum of five years of university training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, clinical diagnosis & management and osteopathic techniques (among many other things) to be eligible to register and practice.

Osteopathy has a holistic approach to treatment which is guided by the principles:

  1. The body is a unit
  2. Structure and function are reciprocally inter‐related
  3. The body possesses self‐regulatory mechanisms
  4. Rational treatment is based upon these previous principles

Explained in layman’s terms this means osteopaths strive to correct dis-organised musculoskeletal structure to improve normal function of the bodies own healing system also known as homeostasis. It can be thought of like using braces to straighten your teeth but applied to the entire body and its systems to assist blood and lymphatic circulation in encouraging the speediest healing process possible.

Osteopaths appreciate that each patient is unique. Pain has many avenues and an osteopath’s job is to uncover the cause of a painful problem and find its’ solution whether it be via manual therapy or by referral to another specialised healthcare professional. Systematic testing and re-testing is an invaluable tool used during consults to progress patients toward pain free function. Focus is on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulatory system, connective tissue, mind and internal organs function as a whole body unit. Treatments may include massage, stretching, joint mobilisation, joint manipulation, dry needling, visceral manipulation and/or cranial osteopathy.

Like chiropractors, osteopaths may choose to manipulate joints – not only in the spine, but also in the arms, legs, hands and feet if an injury requires this for faster resolution. An osteopath will look at your whole body to create a thought out and structured approach and treatment plan that may incorporate manipulation. Osteopathic manipulations tend to be gentle with a focus on increasing joint mobility and decreasing muscle tension. This in turn improves nutrition and waste removal in the body through the arteries, veins and lymphatic system. Using this philosophy in regards to joint manipulations osteopaths do not necessarily aim for a cavitation (or ‘popping’ sound) as even gentle osteopathic manipulations have an affect on joint mobility and the recovery process.

Like physiotherapists, osteopaths are well trained in evidence based rehabilitation and a good osteo will appreciate that they only get to spend 30 minutes per session with you so they aim to make a positive difference in this short time. This means they will be thinking about how you live your life outside of the treatment room and will likely give you constructive advice on your day to day activities. Some osteopaths will also ensure you have stretches or strengthening exercises in your ‘toolbox’ so when you find yourself in strife again you have things to try before needing to book in again. This will further be backed up by a layman’s explanation of what is causing your pain and why – further allowing you to better understand and manage your condition yourself.

Some patients have reported to me that after seeing other manual therapists in the past they were unable to articulate what their diagnosis or treatment plan was. An osteopath will strive to ensure that each patient knows these important details about their problem. It is imperative that every patient understands their diagnosis, prognosis (how long it will take) and their treatment plan, whether it be short term for an acute injury, or for longer term management and prevention of a chronic condition.

Osteopathy, chiropractic and physiotherapy are made up of a vast diversity of practitioners. Individual and unique backgrounds work to create practitioners with their own opinions, approaches and styles within treatment sessions. This tends to be based on evidence based knowledge, individual education and both clinical and life experience.

My approach to osteopathic care is patient centred with the goal of giving a patient all the tools and information they need to treat their problems and maintain and heal their injuries outside of the treatment room. Most importantly a patient centred approach to treatment strives to allow a patient to make the best informed choice about how their pain management should be approached. I work at Southside Clinic in Adelaide where we have a large team of osteopaths. If you wish to make an appointment with myself or the Southside team of Osteopaths, we look forward to helping you on your journey toward a pain free and knowledge empowered life.


By Dr Christopher Zaluski (Osteopath)

Southside Clinic

Unley, South Australia

1300 10 11 22



Of course, each individual situation is different. For professional advice relating to your circumstance, please contact Southside Clinic to book an appointment with Dr Christopher Zaluski, or any one of our Registered Osteopaths.

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