Inspired living

Answers to 4 questions you've always had for your osteopath (but have been too afraid to ask)


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Answers to 4 questions you’ve always had for your osteopath (but have been too afraid to ask).


1. What do you think of me when I have to take my shirt/pants off? 

What we see is probably not what you think we’re looking at. Osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors, doctors, etc. – all treat human bodies for a living.

I see up to 18 patients per day, which means up to about 70 per week. The vast majority of those people will need to undress, at least partially, for me to assess and treat them properly.

In all honesty, I am so used to looking at bodies, and honing in on the musculoskeletal mechanics of that body, that I am oblivious to stretch marks, hairy legs, pimples, love handles etc. I take notice of skin lesions where appropriate, i.e., rashes that might be relevant to a medical condition, but I certainly don’t get grossed out by the normal variations of skin, hair, fat, etc. that I see every day. It’s my job – I’m completely used to it!

The one exception to the “non-grossed out” rule is awful, avoidable BO or smoker’s breath. Whilst the vast majority of osteo’s are completely cool with treating bodies with the normal aroma that arises after moving around all day, it’s a different story if someone walks in after heavy work for 8 hours in 40 degree heat.

Heavy smokers who walk straight into my treatment room immediately after having a cigarette also get up my nose a bit (literally!).

If people are courteous and apply some deodorant or have a breath mint before seeing me, great! We can definitely be friends.

2. Can you tell if I haven’t done my exercises/stretches?

In two words – not really. I’d like you to think that I can, but there’s no definite way of being able to tell from my end.

I prescribe exercises and stretches to assist with speeding up your recovery. If your recovery is taking longer than expected, and you haven’t improved in your ability to do the exercises, then that’s a bit of a giveaway.

If you’re going well and the recovery is coming along quickly, yet you’ve been naughty and ignored my advice, then you might get away with it without my knowing.

Having said that, please do the exercises. They’re there to help.

3. Are you allowed to date your patients?

I’ve included this question here because I have personally been asked this – often! (luckily not by people propositioning me for a date, but from curious souls nonetheless). This one is a resounding NO.

Not only is getting to know a patient and their story important to getting a more accurate picture of their health and injury status, it’s important to understand how best to help that patient in a wholistic sense.

Osteopaths are registered with AHPRA – the Australian Heath Practitioner Regulation Agency, the same agency that registers Nurses, Doctors, Optometrists, Physiotherapists and most other allied health professions. One of the responsibilities of AHPRA is to protect the public from malpractice by health care providers. As such, there are strict rules and regulations of conduct that anyone registered with AHPRA has to uphold according to law.

If an osteopath wished to enter into a romantic relationship with a patient, regulation states that there must be a period of at least 3 months of non-contact between the last contact made within a patient/practitioner relationship and contacting each other as friends/something else.

This rule is there to reduce the risk of people being manipulated or harmed, as the psychology of a patient/practitioner relationship is far different to that of a partnered or friendly relationship.

4. Do you care about my situation or life outside my injury?

Absolutely and completely.

Not only is getting to know a patient and their story important to getting a more accurate picture of their health and injury status, it’s important to understand how best to help that patient in a wholistic sense.

I have patients that I have been seeing for years, and I have a very intimate knowledge of their life, their kids, job, hobbies. Whilst it’s lovely to be able to get excited for them during milestones in their lives, it also affords me the opportunity to pick up on barriers to their health that they might not even know about. Recently I consulted with a patient of mine who had suddenly started getting severe headaches, however it was me that managed to link it to her new laptop that she was so excited about, without her even having thought about it.

I enjoy the relationships that I build with my patients, and I genuinely care about what you have to say. So please, keep telling me!

Keep well,




Dr Claire Richardson loves what osteopathy offers her patients and how it can help people of all different ages and backgrounds. Claire treats a wide range of patients, from the young through to the elderly, including office workers, athletes, pregnant women and tradesmen. Claire enjoys treating all musculoskeletal ailments, from sports injuries to postural problems. She employs a wide variety of techniques in her treatment, including soft tissue massage, dry needling, and joint and muscle manipulation where appropriate. As part of her treatments, Claire advises on contributing lifestyle factors such as activity and diet which enables her patients to have an optimal and speedy recovery.