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How to find the right Osteopathic Practitioner

It’s hard when you are sourcing out a health care specialist, especially when it may be a new discipline that you haven’t tried, like Osteopathy. Here are my top 5 questions to ask a potential therapist to ensure you have enough information to make an informed decision.  This decision could mean getting you back to yourself more quickly so it’s an important one!

1. Where did you go to school? Really important. Osteopathy is not a regulated health profession, meaning that there isn’t a standard for schooling like there is for physiotherapy as an example.  At Balance Point Health Centre, our Osteopathic Practitioner’s went to the Canadian College of Osteopathy.  This program consists of seven years of in-class study, five years part time and a two year thesis. Other schools are 4,3 or 2 years in length so would provide therapists with the same depth of knowledge or hands-on experience.

2. Do you guarantee your treatment? Some people do ask this. If the therapist says yes…run. I have been a therapist for 20 years, and I don’t ever guarantee results. Your body is your body, and as good as I may be at figuring it out, we don’t know 100% how you may respond. Even when every part is moving well, 10 people with the same problem will respond 10 different ways.  I do however, see significant improvement in the majority of my clients.

3. Do you work in conjunction with my doctor/ allied health care professionals?  You will want someone who looks at your issue from a big picture or whole body perspective.  If they say they don’t, that’s a bit of a red flag to me. No therapy or therapist is an island. If we fixed everything, then no other therapy would need to exist. If, during treatment, things aren’t adding up and your recovery is either slower than expected, or not progressing, you will be sent to your doctor for follow up. Our ‘hands’ are good, but we don’t have x ray vision. If we work with your doctor or other therapists, we can reach our goal of getting you better, faster.

4. How often do I need to come in for treatment?  If they give you a definitive answer, question it!  If it’s an acute injury, like a lower back, I may see someone once a week. If Its sub-acute or chronic, then maybe in two weeks from the initial assessment.  The reason behind this is that the body needs time to adapt to the treatment, and you need time to work on your exercises to help anchor the treatment. If I was to see you two to three times a week, I won’t know if I am treating pain from the last treatment, or pain from the problem.

5. When would we, if ever, stop treatment?  Again, if they give you a definitive answer, question it!  After the fourth or fifth treatment if we are not seeing any change in your symptoms or function, this may not be where you need to be. Our goal is to get you better.  If you are not improving, it may be that we need to refer you back to your doctor, or another therapist. The number of patients I have seen that go to a therapist for years with no change in their pain is baffling.

 

Dave Ellis, Manual Osteopathic Practitioner, Oakville

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