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An osteopath is an Allied Health professional who specialises in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. 

Osteopaths believe that the body can heal itself if the right combination of manual techniques such as massage and the manipulation of muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons are used to bring the body back to a cohesive whole.

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Osteopaths take a case history of each patient. They observe how the patient’s body functions when they sit, stand and lie down, as well as physically examine the patient by using palpation to determine which areas of the body are healthy and which are in pain.

An osteopath also observes the spine, shoulders and determines if the pelvis is symmetrical. At the initial consultation, the osteopath will devise a treatment plan for the patient, if he or she thinks that osteopathic treatment is suitable.

If the osteopath determines that osteopathic treatment is not suitable for the patient, they can refer the patient back to their GP for a referral to an osteopathic surgeon, or may recommend the patient see a dentist or physiotherapist instead.


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Different techniques can be used in osteopathic treatment, such as the pumping technique, traction, manipulations, stretching techniques, muscle energy techniques, counterstrain techniques or high velocity-low amplitude.

Osteopaths usually treat patients who complain of headaches, bad backs, neck pain, sciatica, repetitive strain injuries (RSI), asthma, joint pain, menstrual problems and pregnancy problems. 

An osteopath may be able to treat chronic fatigue as well as arthritis and sports injuries.  There are also many other conditions that may benefit from treatment by an osteopath.

Osteopaths may treat a wide range of patients, from children to the elderly.  They can assist pregnant women by helping to reduce back pain as well as readying the body for childbirth.

After the initial consultation, a patient may need to see the osteopath only once or twice more, or may need to come back for six or more treatments. 

At the next session, the osteopath will determine if the treatment made an improvement in the patient’s condition and based on the patient’s answer, will decide whether to continue with that specific treatment or to try a new approach.

How do you become an osteopath?

You need to complete a five year, full time double degree course at university. Only a few universities in Australia offer this course. It’s available at universities in Victoria and New South Wales.

You will need to complete a Bachelor of Science - Clinical Science/Master of Health Science - Osteopathy double degree. Once you have graduated with your master’s degree, you will be eligible to work as an osteopath. You can also register as an osteopath with the Australian Osteopathic Association.

The average salary for an osteopath in Australia is around $85-90,000 per year.

If you believe that the body can heal itself given the right conditions and techniques such as manipulation, massage and traction, then a career in osteopathy may be very rewarding for you. 

You would be helping people to become pain free or to regain their mobility, helping them to enjoy a healthier body that “works”.


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