Welcome to our frequently asked questions page. Our intention here is to highlight some of the unique aspects of osteopathy and our clinic Balmain Osteopaths. We hope you find this information useful whether you are a Health Care professional or just interested in osteopathy.

Please note that osteopathy is a very large subject and is not covered in its entirety on this website.

If your question is not covered here then go to Contact Us and follow the link to send us an email.

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a system of healthcare grounded in human anatomy and physiology. It is bound by the principles of natural science, of how the body functions and its interaction with the natural world. It is the science, philosophy and principles that define Osteopathy, rather than any particular form of diagnosis or treatment.

Osteopathy was founded by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still and emerged in America towards the end of the 19th century. Dr. Still was a Medical Physician who was disillusioned with the medical practice of his time. Through the dedicated study of anatomy and physiology over many years he developed a system that enhanced the body to return to and maintain health. Dr. Still called this system Osteopathy because he realized that dis-ease often begins with a disturbance in the functioning of the body framework. He founded the first osteopathic school in Kirksville, USA in 1894. Like many clinical investigators of his time, Dr Still considered the patient to be his field of study and spoke of Osteopathy as: a Science, a Philosophy, and an Art. The following principles guide the practice of  Osteopathy.

Osteopathic Principles:

  1. The body is a unit and the person is a unit of body, mind and spirit.
  2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing and health maintenance.
  3. Structure and function are interdependent: This concept avoids the artificial separation of physiology, anatomy and biochemical and electrical fields.
  4. Rational diagnosis and treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation and the inter-relationship of structure and function.

Principles in Practice:

As the osteopath takes the case history, examines, diagnoses and treats the patient, they are using these principles to develop an understanding of the person. They consider the nature of the problem, how it relates to its surrounding structures, what the vitality of the body system is like, and how the person’s body is functioning as a whole. All of these factors have a bearing on the diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

It is the philosophy and principles of osteopathy that render it unique and different to comparable modes of physical therapy, such as chiropractic and physiotherapy.

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Is osteopathy Safe?

Is osteopathy Safe?

Osteopaths are trained to be responsible practitioners who take practitioner competence and patient safety seriously.

Part of an osteopath’s job is to differentiate between what is appropriate to treat and what may require referral. This is an everyday clinical decision for an osteopath.

Osteopaths are registered health practitioners in every state and territory of Australia. The training is five years fulltime to gain the appropriate qualifications in clinical health science, diagnosis and treatment. One must have completed training at an accredited university, and satisfied the Osteopathic Registration Board competence requirements before one can practice as an osteopath.

The Australian Osteopathic Association (AOA) is the national professional body representing Osteopaths in Australia and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a mandatory requirement.

All of the osteopaths who work at our clinic are registered osteopaths, members of the AOA, and actively pursue post-graduate education.

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What happens in a consultation?

The Initial Consultation:

This is a longer consultation where the osteopath takes a detailed case history, performs tests to examine movement and function, arrives at a working diagnosis of the problem, and applies corrective treatment appropriately. During the case history, the osteopath will ask questions about your current problem, however they are also interested in your general health. This is because there may be facts in your past that may be contributing to your current condition, or, limiting your body’s ability to rebalance and return to health.



During examination you may be asked to partially disrobe. This is to enable the osteopath to observe how your body responds to movement. The examination helps to identify causes and contributing factors to the problem, and how the physical condition of your body is coping with it.

After examination, the osteopath arrives at a working diagnosis, which is a synthesis of the information gathered so far. The osteopath may refer to previous scans or reports which you are asked to bring with you. If the conclusions are unclear or if there is doubt, the osteopath may refer you at this point.


Osteopaths are trained and experienced in gathering information by the sensitive use of their hands. Treatment continues to provide the osteopath with more detailed information about the function of your body. A variety of hands-on treatment may be applied. Techniques can be used which directly address motion restrictions by applying pressure or a counter-balancing force against the resistance. Examples range from tissue-specific massage, stretching, myofascial release, joint articulation, and mobilization. Techniques can also be used that employ your body’s inner self-correcting ability to address the restriction in movement or function. These approaches are extremely gentle as the osteopath engages the inherent rhythmic functions of the body which utilize breathing, circulation, and involuntary motion patterns. These include functional technique, balanced ligamentous tension, cranial or biodynamic approaches.

Osteopathic treatment is intentionally tailor-made to work in synchrony with your body, which adds to the uniqueness of osteopathy.

Subsequent Consultations:

Subsequent consultations are shorter in duration, although there is an ongoing review of function and progress. In a course of osteopathic treatment, the osteopath should be able to explain: how osteopathy can help, what is wrong and which muscles, joints or nerves are involved, and the likely causes for its onset. They can advise how many sessions it may take to manage or resolve the problem, what you can do to assist your recovery, and what can be done to avoid a recurrence of the problem in the future. It may also be necessary to refer to other practitioners in the process of managing your condition.

The focus is always on you as the patient, supporting a return to healthy function, work, and the activities of life.

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How to find us

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Please take note that we are situated on the corner of Booth and Darvall streets. Entry to the clinic is via the green ramp.


There is metered parking on the hospital section of Booth street and on darvall street. Unmetered parking is available on the downhill section of Booth street and on Bradford street.

Public transport:View Trip Planner
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