What is Osteopathy?

Osteopaths are primary health care practitioners who use a hands on approach to facilitate healing. Osteopaths achieve this by focusing on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit. Using hands on techniques, Osteopaths can treat a wide range of complaints ( see list below) and help to reduce pain/discomfort, improve stiffness and functionality.


In New Zealand, Osteopaths undergo a 5 year degree and are trained in anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnosis and osteopathic techniques. Osteopaths are also trained to recognise conditions which require medical referral. Osteopaths work with and alongside other healthcare professionals such as GPs and specialists to ensure patients are receiving the best care possible. For more information about Osteopaths please visit www.osteopathsnz.co.nz.

What Osteopaths treat

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  Sports injuries/muscle strains

OOS or Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

 Pregnancy and post-pregnancy related pain

Asthma or other breathing related disorders/issues


 Digestive or gynaecological complaints

Occupational injuries/postural complaints

Chronic pain

 Joint pain/arthritis

Post surgical stiffness/rehabilitation

Sleeping, feeding or digestive problems in babies

What to expect

  • Case history

    The consultation will begin with the Osteopath taking your history. This includes discussing the problem you have come in with as well as taking a medical history. This will help the Osteopath to identify what the problem could be.

  • Examination

    The Osteopath will do a physical examination of the area and surrounding areas. This may include examining the muscles, joints and orthopedic testing to identify what structures are causing the problem.  Osteopaths use a holistic approach to treatment which means that you may come in for treatment of your shoulder and your Osteopath may examine your neck, back and forearm to see if they are contributing to the problem.

  • Explanation/diagnosis

    The Osteopath will then discuss with you their diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan will be formed together. If needed, the Osteopath can refer you on for further investigations such as X-ray or to your doctor.

  • Treatment

    The Osteopath will use hands on techniques to reduce pain and improve movement in your body. A list of techniques used can be found below. Treatment can also include advice and exercises/stretches you can do at home to aid the recovery process.

  • After Treatment

    After treatment you may feel tired and need to rest. It is best to avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after treatment. Some people experience mild soreness for a day or two after treatment. This may feel similar to what you experience after exercise. If this soreness persists please call your osteopath to discuss your concerns. After treatment please remember to drink water to remain hydrated.

What techniques Osteopaths use

Techniques used can vary between clients and can include the following:

  • Postural and gait analysis
  • Joint manipulation/HVLA
  • Cranial
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Visceral technique
  • Stretching/ Muscle energy techniques
  • Joint articulation and mobilisation
  • Trigger point release

The Osteopathic Council

The Osteopathic council of New Zealand (OCNZ) are the governing body for Osteopaths. To be able to practice in NZ all Osteopaths must be registered with the OCNZ and are required to undergo continuing professional development (CPD). CPD courses ensures Osteopaths are up to date with current literature and are competent to practice. The OCNZ operates under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance act (HPCAA).  The HPCAA is a legislative framework, established in 2003 by the Ministry of Health. It was developed with the aim to ensure the health and safety of patients by promoting lifelong competency of practitioners. Having the act provides a professional standard that is regulated which ensures the health and safety of patients.