Top Five Reasons People See an Osteopath

by LMatthews on September 7, 2014

reasons to see an osteopath back painYou might think that osteopaths are just for spines and knees and so forth but many people choose to consult an osteopath rather than their family physician for a range of health concerns. In fact, a new study carried out in Quebec, Canada, has found that musculoskeletal pain only accounts for 61.9% of consultations, so what are the other top reasons for people checking in with their osteo?

Morin and Aubin published their paper in PLoS One this month having surveyed 277 osteopaths registered in Quebec. Data was gathered for 14,002 patients over a two week period and the primary reasons for them seeking osteopathic consultation was recorded. Osteopathic treatment is typically recommended to address issues of back pain, including spinal stenosis, but the results of this survey found that musculoskeletal pain in the spine, thorax, pelvis, and limbs accounted for just under two thirds of visits to the osteopaths.


Interestingly, women consulted an osteopath most commonly for cervical pain, while lumbar pain was the most frequently reported reason for men to seek osteopathic consultation.

Given that musculoskeletal issues can affect so many aspects of health it may come as no surprise to those conversant in osteopathy that the reasons people consult an osteopath are quite varied. Alignment issues with the spine may affect respiratory health, for example, or chronic neck pain may lead to issues of sleeplessness or even depression, diabetes, and weight gain.


The top five reasons people seek osteopathic help are, then:

  1. Musculoskeletal pain – 61.9%
  2. Perinatal and pediatric pain – 11.8%
  3. Head – 9.1%
  4. Visceral – 5%
  5. General concerns – 4.8%

0.3% of the visits were for preventative purposes.

People seek osteopathic treatment for more than just back pain then, suggesting that the continued professional development of osteopaths needs to include a range of health issues so as to enable early intervention and referral for conditions that may be related to orthopedic health but which require specialist attention. Ensuring a multidisciplinary collaborative approach to health will better serve all patients, not just those seeking osteopathic help for spinal stenosis.

Reference

Morin C, Aubin A. Primary reasons for osteopathic consultation: a prospective survey in quebec. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 3;9(9):e106259.

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