Osteopathy is the fastest growing allied health profession but there are still plenty of people who don’t know exactly what it entails.
Ballarat’s population growth, in particular new residents from Melbourne, and overall growth in awareness of osteopathy is driving a booming demand for local practitioners.
“With the increase in people from Melbourne, a lot more people are familiar with osteopathy and the number of people seeking treatment in Ballarat is very much increasing,” said Dr Anthony Rogan, owner of Eureka Osteopathy.
So great is the demand that Dr Rogan is building a new clinic to expand the practice to cope with the influx of new patients.
“Osteopathy is a hand-on therapy … that looks at the whole body and the whole person in total when considering all the things that might contribute to the issue people present with,” said Dr Rogan said.
Rather than just examining the problem area, osteopaths assess the whole body to see what else is going in within the body.
“Very often there is a pattern of tension or stress distant of the site of the symptoms. If left unaddressed it might get short term relief from some treatment, but the underlying problem remains,” he said.
Osteopathy Australia chief executive Antony Nicholas said osteopaths could treat anyone from babies to the elderly, with any kind of musculoskeletal injury.
“A lot of the general public think osteopathy is all about back pain; however, many weekend warriors and successful sports people see an osteopath to treat a wide range of sporting injuries and improve their performance,” Mr Nicholas said.
Osteopaths offer exercise rehabilitation, exercise advice or prescription, lifestyle advice and education where appropriate. Sports osteopaths can enhance performance and improve muscle strength, rehabilitate and prevent future injuries.
Dr Rogan said the goal of most osteopaths was to encourage patients to self-manage their injuries.
“We try to help them with hands on therapy and advice around lifestyle change, exercise or modifications that might need to be made … so people don’t need to keep coming back.”
Growing hand in hand with osteopathy are university courses that used to take only about 50 students a year but now train almost 500.
“In Australia there are three universities training osteopaths, with maybe 70 students a year in Lismore but an intake of about 200 each at RMIT and Victoria University. There are only about 2500 osteopaths in Australia but in another five years it will double,” Dr Rogan said.
This week is Osteopathy Awareness Week.