Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few of our most asked questions.
Please Contact Us if you have other questions.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a safe and effective approach to health care which works in combination with the individuals own homeostatic mechanisms to help restore homeostasis and optimal health. It understands the relationship between structure and function within the body and that all aspects of the body must work together to maintain health.

In practice an osteopathic practitioner will assess the whole body as a unit and not just the area that is causing symptoms. For example if you may complain of knee pain, the osteopathic practitioner will assess the function of the knee but also look for any compensations within the body that are a result or a cause of any dysfunction in the knee.

Once the osteopathic practitioner has assessed the whole body they will use a combination of techniques such as joint articulation, myofascial release, visceral and cranial, as appropriate for each individual. The result is that the knee will have less stress placed upon it, allowing for healing and a decrease in pain, while also improving the functional biomechanics throughout the body which may improve that difficult digestion and decrease those headaches that seemed to have nothing to do with the knee pain.

How can Osteopathy play a role in health care in BC and whom can it help?

Osteopathy forms a very useful adjunct to health care options already on offer in British Columbia. Results with chronic pain scenarios, for just one example, happen more quickly than with most other approaches, proving to be less painful and less arduous for the patient - and are much more cost effective.

Osteopathy is concerned with the restoration of the structure and function of the human body using 'hands-on' techniques, often referred to as Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy.

The following list is an example of the types of people, conditions and complaints that osteopathic practitioners see regularly, although the list is not exhaustive.

Types of patient:

  • Adults
  • Athletes
  • Retirees
  • Expectant and post-partum mothers
  • Children
  • Babies

General descriptions of pain:

  • Disc - strain, hernia, prolapse
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Tendinitis
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Muscle spasms, strains and pulls
  • Ligament strains
  • Joint - pain, swelling, clicking, locking
  • Trapped nerves and nerve pain
  • Arthritis, wear and tear, degeneration
  • Bursitis
  • Sharp pain
  • Acute
  • Chronic
  • Hypermobility
  • Hypomobility
  • Stiff
  • Tight
  • Ache
  • Tender
  • Numb
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Local
  • Referred
  • Pre and post operation

Musculo-skeletal problems:

  • Spinal stenosis, spondylosis, spondyloarthrosis, spondylolisthesis
  • Neck (disc, muscle, ligament, joint)
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • TMJ, Jaw
  • Thoracic (disc, muscle, ligament, joint)
  • Rib (muscle, ligament, and joint)
  • Floating rib impingement
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Chest pain (not cardiac)
  • Frozen shoulder and impingement syndromes
  • Rotator cuff and shoulder bursitis, tendinitis and muscle tears
  • Acromio-clavicular pain
  • Collar bone
  • Student, tennis and golfers elbow
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger or thumb
  • Wrist tendinitis
  • Arthritic thumb
  • Raynauds phenomenon
  • Lumbar (disc, muscle, ligament, joint)
  • Sacro-iliac (ligament, and joint)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Sciatica
  • Coccyx pain
  • Hip bursitis, pain, and degeneration
  • Hamstring, quadricep, calf muscle strains
  • Iliotibial tract
  • Groin pain
  • Groin strains
  • Knee degeneration and pain (meniscus, ligament, bursa, joint, muscle)
  • Patella disorders
  • Swollen ankles
  • Shin splints / pain
  • High or fallen arch problems
  • Plantar fasciitis, pain on sole of foot or heel
  • Achilles tendon pain
  • Toe pain
  • Foot pain

Visceral problems after pathology has been excluded:

  • Asthma and breathing problems
  • Swallowing, indigestion, hiatus hernia
  • Constipation
  • Period pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney and bladder disorders
  • Pelvic floor, stress incontinence
  • Ear-ache
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Sinus pain 

Why do you now call yourselves Osteopathic Practitioners instead of osteopaths?

The Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) recognizes internationally that there are two streams of osteopathic practice. Osteopathy practised by osteopaths, and osteopathic medicine practised by osteopathic physicians.

The majority of countries in the world and the majority of osteopaths in Canada use these internationally accepted titles and definitions. Unfortunately, British Columbia is out of step with these standards and the titles “Osteopath” and “Osteopathic Physician” are currently reserved for osteopathic physicians here.

Members of OsteopathyBC therefore use the title ‘Osteopathic Practitioner” in British Columbia to make it very clear that we are not physicians and to conform with the law.

We regret any public confusion which may be caused by not following international standards, but this is beyond our control.

Is treatment covered by MSP or extended benefits and how much does it cost?

Treatment with an osteopathic practitioner is not covered by MSP. However more and more extended benefits companies will now cover osteopathy so please check with your company for the specifics of your plan. The cost of treatment will vary slightly between practitioner so please check with the individual for their fees.

Do I need a Doctor's Referral?

No you do not need a referral to visit an osteopathic practitioner.

How does OsteopathyBC compare with osteopathic organisations in other parts of Canada and the rest of the world?

OsteopathyBC is not a regulating body, nor is it able to certify any provincial recognition. Like other organizations of its kind in Canada and throughout the world, it is an association of Osteopathic Practitioners committed to fostering education of the public about the profession, demonstrating accountability and ethical practice, and providing a list of practitioners whose training is known to be of a high standard.

What are the differences between osteopathic practitioners* and osteopathic physicians?

The training of osteopathic practitioners and osteopathic physicians have the same origin - in the work of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, MD.

From early in the 20th century, however, these two streams of the profession were evolving differently. As the name indicates, osteopathic physicians are medical doctors. As such, they are trained to prescribe drugs, perform surgery, deliver babies, etc., and to have the prerequisites to specialize in other branches of medicine. Osteopathic physicians are almost exclusively trained in the USA.  Osteopathic practitioners have training in basic health sciences (anatomy, physiology, etc.) and extensive instruction in osteopathic manual treatment but they are not medical doctors. Osteopathic practitioners are trained in many countries, all over the world and are regulated in 12 countries in Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Worldwide, osteopathic practitioners have a very comprehensive practical training in what has come to be known as Osteopathic Manual Therapy. It is this manual practice or manipulation which was most distinctive about the founder of osteopathy, Dr. Still's methods, and it is the wide range of manual practice approaches that evolved from Still's principles which forms the core of Osteopathy. In fact, the manual practice of osteopathy has hugely influenced most of the physical therapy approaches - from chiropractic through massage and physiotherapy, to Rolfing, cranio-sacral therapy and sports medicine.

Both streams of osteopathy are recognized by the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) which represents 75,000 osteopathic practitioners and osteopathic physicians from more than 20 different countries worldwide.

The majority of countries in the world and the majority of provinces in Canada use the internationally accepted title “osteopath” for practitioners who offer osteopathic manual therapy. In BC, the term “osteopath” is currently a restricted title for osteopathic physicians who are members of the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Do all Osteopathic Practitioners in BC have the same training?

Not all Osteopathic Practitioners in BC have the same training.

OsteopathyBC members must have a minimum of 4 years training in Osteopathy and most have previous health care designations (Physiotherapist, Registered Massage Therapist, Athletic Therapist, etc.) prior to entering Osteopathic training. There are schools in Canada that offer online only training for people with little or no previous health care education.

Be sure that your Osteopathic Practitioner has comprehensive training.  Visit our Member List to find a qualified Osteopathic Practitioner in your area.