The idea of discharging the client when they are pain free is something that all of us manual therapists (osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors) have been generally been doing for a long time and I often ask myself “is this the right thing to do?”. Whilst the client is generally very happy that they are no longer in pain, what if faulty movement patterns still exist that could possibly lead to further re-aggravation or injury again.

As Osteopaths we are taught that the site of pain is not always the problem area and that we must look at the body as whole and treat it as a whole, as there are many other areas that could be causing the presenting complaint/injury or pain. Manual therapists are very good at applying manual techniques to make a change and often rid our clients of pain. One area that we are not always good at though is assessing and prescribing our clients the appropriate corrective exercises to correct faulty movement patterns and prevent further occurrences of pain and injury. Typically personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches are the leaders in exercise prescription, however they often do not have the clinical experience that we have. Both professional groups can learn a great deal of each other in regards to managing and training clients in regards to this.

I believe that we as Osteopaths have a key role in assessing a clients movement patterns and providing appropriate exercise and instruction so that our clients not only rid themselves of pain, but also faulty movement patterns or dysfunctions that could lead to further issues. For the treating practitioner, I say this, next time you are planning on discharging your client once they are pain free, make sure you have addressed their faulty movement patterns and given your client the necessary skills to ensure this. To the client who has a resolving injury, make sure your treating practitioner has educated you and given you the necessary skills (advice on pain avoidance behaviours and postures, stretches, mobilisers and exercises) to prevent further recurrence of your injury.

Osteopath Heath Williams is owner and director of Principle Four Osteopathy, one of Melbourne City CBD 3000 leading Osteopathic clinics. It is located at 29 somerset place, Melbourne city cbd 3000 (near corner of little bourke and elizabeth st). To speak to an Osteopath or make an appointment, please call 03 9670 9290. Check us out at

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