About Osteopathy

What is Osteopathy?

The term osteopathy is a misnomer; in medical terms Osteo = bones and Path = disease. Therefore, osteopaths treat diseases of bones, right? This could not be further from the truth!

Osteopathy is a form of manual health care that provides a unique system of diagnosis and treatment by appreciating the importance of the structural integrity of the body on people’s overall health and well-being. In addition to conventional medical assessments and tools used for diagnosis, Osteopaths assess patients from a mechanical, functional, and postural standpoint. This is achieved by static and functional movement observations, using their hands to move and palpate the joints and tissues of body, and special orthopaedic tests. This approach provides osteopaths with a unique understanding of what area(s) of the body may be causing or contributing to a patients’ complaint.

Physical treatment is directed towards the areas considered to be significant in each individual patients’ condition. It varies between people because everyone is different, and each presentation of a condition is different; some patients respond well to gentle treatment, whereas others will do better with stronger techniques. The advantage is that osteopaths have a wide variety of techniques to accommodate a great number of patients and their requirements.

As part of the whole person approach to health, Osteopaths may also provide a management plan; suggesting postural and lifestyle adjustments, how to manage current symptoms and prevention strategies once you’re back on track.

Osteopaths work within the allied health setting and form part of a team approach to healthcare, working well alongside professionals such as GP’s, sports doctors, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists, psychologists, personal trainers and so on.

How are Osteopaths trained?

Osteopaths complete a 5-year university degree, work in the university clinic as part of their training, and complete over 100 external practical hours before commencing work within an osteopathic clinic. They are registered by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and conform with their code of practice and regulation standards - including consent, scope of practice, advertising, and continual professional development requirements.

Osteopaths study anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pathology in addition to learning how to examine the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, abdominal, and neurological systems. During their 5-year degree they learn an array of manual treatment techniques to accommodate the variety of people and their presenting complaints.

Examples of complaints treated at Sana Osteopathy

  • Lower back pain, disc injuries, sciatica
  • Neck pain, headaches, trapped nerves
  • Sinus congestion and pain
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis, stiffness in joints
  • Shoulder pain, Shoulder impingement
  • Elbow, wrist, and hand pain
  • Knee and hip joint pain
  • Foot and Ankle sprains and pain
  • Tendinopathy, bursitis, muscle strains and spasms such as torticollis
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Pelvic and urogenital complaints
  • Pregnancy related complaints – pelvic, lower back and hip problems, breathing difficulties, heartburn, carpal tunnel, and neck, shoulder and upper back pain and stiffness
  • Sporting injuries
  • Postural and computer related problems
  • Whiplash and other trauma

Treatment techniques used at Sana Osteopathy

A range of treatment techniques are used during an osteopathic consultation to provide the best possible results. If you have seen an osteopath before and prefer a certain treatment approach, please discuss this with your osteopath.


Mobilisation is a non-specific term that may refer to active and passive joint movements, muscle stretches and soft tissue massage. We prefer the term ‘articulation’ or ‘manipulation’ when referring to joint movements, and ‘soft tissue’ when referring to the muscles, tendons, and connective tissue of the body as these more accurately specify what structure the technique is being applied to.

Manipulation with thrust

Manipulation with thrust in osteopathic language is called HVLA: High Velocity, Low Amplitude. This is because a very quick movement is applied over an extremely short distance to a joint that has been tensioned in a way to create a cavitation / popping sound.

It is commonly used for segments of the spine that have reduced range of movement or poor-quality movement but can also be used in the peripheral joints of the arms and legs.

Muscle Energy Technique (MET)

During the application of MET, patients are directed to provide a specific amount of resistance in a specific direction against a counter force applied by the practitioner. It can be aimed towards restoring joint range and quality of motion, improving symmetry to the body’s structure, decrease muscle/tissue tightness, inhibit pain and provide short term increase in tissue flexibility/length.

Soft Tissue

This term encompasses any technique applied to muscles, connective tissue, fascia, and tendons. It may involve sustained deep pressure, longer strokes inline with the fibres or shorter strokes across fibres, or of rhythmic stretching or traction. Its purpose is to move excess tissue fluids (oedema), promote blood flow, improve quality of movement, and relax tight muscles.

Dry Needling

Dry Needling is a technique that requires the use of thin, solid filament needles that are inserted into muscles to aid in relieving muscular tension and pain. It most significantly differs from Acupuncture in that the Chinese Meridians are not part of the needle placement considerations.

Dr. Ellen Black and Dr. Haylee Nguyen are both qualified to Dry Needle at Sana Osteopathy.

Visceral Manipulation

Visceral Manipulation treats the structural relationships between the viscera (organs), and their fascial or ligamentous attachments to the various systems in the body. Strains within the connective tissue of the viscera can result from surgical scars, adhesion's, illness, posture, or injury. These strains cause tension patters through the fascial network within the body and contribute to effects far from their sources for which the body compensates.

It can be used in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments from headaches and general musculoskeletal problems to digestive and urogenital complaints.

Craniosacral Therapy / Osteopathy in the Cranial Field

OCF is primarily concerned with two physiological phenomena: the motion present in the cranial sutures (joints) and the rhythmic impulse of the craniosacral rhythm produced by the production and absorption of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain. This rhythm can be felt throughout the body by skilled practitioners using an exceptionally light touch.

The craniosacral system is comprised of the bones of the skull and the sacrum, the meninges / connective tissue of the brain and spinal cord, and the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord. OCF releases restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve nervous system function, as well as many other systems of the body such as digestive, musculoskeletal, respiratory, circulatory, and more.

Functional Release

Functional Release involves evaluating tissue responses to the introduction of light, gentle movement with the aim to determine which directions it likes to move. During application of the treatment technique, the joint is then ‘stacked’ into the position of ease and the nervous system is given time to respond to this new information being generated by the tissue receptors.

It is mostly used to improve joint mobility range and quality by influencing the joint capsule and local soft tissue structures.


Strain-Counterstrain places a body part into a position of tissue ease and comfort by shortening the muscle fibres that are causing pain or contributing to joint restrictions. By shortening the tissues there is a neurological relaxation reflex creating an instant change.

It is used for muscle spasm, guarding, and knots, to help reduce pain and joint restrictions associated with muscle tightness.