All osteopaths are skilled at managing pain that is produced when there is discomfort or an immediate physical injury to the body.
In addition, pain management osteopaths focus on identifying and managing the underlying causes of ongoing or persistent pain. Persistent pain lasts for longer than three months and can be maintained through complex physiological and neurological factors unique to each person.
Pain management osteopaths work mainly with people who experience pain which lasts longer than expected healing timeframes. They work with complex pain types, such as nerve pain (pain that results from a disease or problem in the central nervous system but can exist without a physical injury), neuroplasticity (changes in the brain and patient behaviours or perceptions due to pain), and pain comorbidities (when there are numerous types of pain present, other illnesses or conditions that may produce or increase pain or disability).
Pain management osteopaths have additional training and experience to manage pain that lasts beyond expected healing timeframes, nerve pain, as well as stress and behaviour change that can occur as a result of persistent pain.
Assessments performed by a pain management osteopath may include the following components:
Exploration of your pain history. This involves identifying what you think is causing your pain, previous tests and diagnoses you have been given to explain your pain, as well as treatments and other approaches you have tried to relieve your pain
Collection of information about your lifestyle at home, at work and socially and occasions when your pain gets better or worse. Pain management osteopaths may use surveys and questionnaires to determine factors that affect your pain, including life stresses, past treatments, emotional and other factors
Additional pain testing to identify if your pain is linked to a musculoskeletal injury, or other factors that have triggered changes in your nervous system or brain
Determination of whether hands-on manual therapies and home exercises could complement any other treatments you are trying to manage your pain
Determination of whether you would benefit from a referral for further assessment or clinical management.
Pain management osteopaths work with you to tailor your pain management plan to your individual needs, goals and to the type of pain they have identified. Uniquely, the approaches they use to manage pain may not involve any hands on manual therapy. They work with you using methods that have been validated in pain science like pain education, basic cognitive approaches and lifestyle advice to help you manage components of your lifestyle that can influence your pain.
Pain management osteopaths work closely with general practitioners, psychologists, exercise physiologists, medical specialists and other health professionals as they understand that proper pain management requires a multidisciplinary approach. They know that manual therapies may be one of several strategies needed to manage pain. When required, pain management osteopaths will refer you to a pain management clinic with the support of your General Practitioner.
Osteopathy Australia's Clinical Practice Group (CPG) in pain exists to recognise members with further clinical skills in pain management. Click here to find out more about our CPGs.