Osteopathy is very effective when practiced by a competent professional. But what criteria should you use when choosing your osteopath?
At the current time in Quebec there is no Order of Osteopaths and therefore no regulatory framework – it is important to check the level of training and education of a practitioner. The standard training takes 4 to 6 years resulting in a Diploma of Osteopathy (DO) or a Bachelor of Science in Osteopathy (BSc Ost), for those trained in Europe. The practitioner should also be a member of a professional association, of which there are several in Quebec.
Since 2015 a committee of osteopaths has been working with the OPQ (Office des Professions du Québec ) to create an order with the aim of standardising the profession.
The osteopath’s goal is to identify functional disorders and to treat them by using hands-on therapy. It could be a musculo-skeletal problem (such as lower back or joint pain) or an issue with circulation or digestion. Acute or chronic pain can be caused by something new or ongoing, such as poor posture.
The osteopath must refer you to a doctor if the problem is beyond his or her expertise, or if the symptoms continue to worsen.
Osteopaths never treat serious diseases such as cancer. Sometimes osteopathy can offer pain relief or alleviate symptoms but always as a complement to other treatments. Be wary of osteopaths who promise to cure any conceivable condition. An osteopath is not a “healer”, an “energy therapist” nor a “bone setter”.
An osteopath has a global approach. That is the reason why the first session should be dedicated to a complete examination and detail questioning of your past medical history, surgery and other treatments you may have received in the past. You should come with any x-rays or appropriate medical records concerning your problem.
The osteopath will do a complete evaluation of the patient standing, sitting and lying down, carefully assessing mobility of the articulations, muscular and visceral tensions.
A good osteopath does not rush the session. He/she must dedicate enough time to properly care for the patient. The first session is usually longer than any follow-up sessions.
An office well kept reflects the professionalism of the practitioner. The treatment table must conform to the hygiene and safety regulations.
All osteopathic notes must be kept private, not shared nor accessible to a third party.
The patient should expect to see some evidence of symptomatic changes as less pain or increase mobility after few sessions, sometimes even as soon as the first consultation. It does not mean that the patient is healed but progress is on the way.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions! A good osteopath will be happy to answer questions by email or phone addressing any concerns you may have before your first appointment.