It pains most of us
Back pain – who doesn’t have it? Only about 30 percent of us, says osteopath Melanie Young, including the people who heal it.
“I think every osteopath starts out with back pain,” Young says laughing, but she’s only half joking. Her path to the practice was through a severe foot injury that doused her blossoming ballet career.
“I had a left foot fracture and sprain and ended up with Achilles tendonitis. I had to stop dancing. Later, in England I saw an osteopath. He said, ‘we can fix it’ and within a couple of visits he had. My foot was out of alignment and nobody had diagnosed it.”
Young says if the practice had been more prevalent when she was injured she might have continued with ballet, but the healing experience inspired Young to study osteopathy. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere the five year full time programme is available only in Auckland and Melbourne. Although the practice was invented during the late 1800s by an American named Andrew Taylor Still, it only arrived in Wellington 21 years ago. Recently, Young, a Wellington native who can trace her roots back to an 1840 ship, spent over a year advertising for two new osteopaths to join her practice. She eventually found them in the UK.
She points out that osteopathy is different from other medical methods, and though some practitioners prescribe medications, in its pure form individual body structures are examined and adjusted to cure pain. The guiding philosophy is that the body is a unit and has the ability to self-heal.
“Why are these aches occurring? If you can treat the cause then the person can get off the painkillers,” says Young.
However, each body has its own needs. “I never do the same treatment twice. It’s very specific to the person and their past.”
She is running a back pain seminar to offer up some solutions for how people can mitigate their own pain.
“We decided to do the talk about back pain because is so central,” says Young. “Rather than ignoring it we want to help people understand what’s going on and do something proactive.”
The talk will include Young and the three other registered osteopaths, as well as a registered acupuncturist, registered massage therapist, a body talk therapist, and a specialist in naturopathy, medical herbs, and nutrition. They’ll be discussing the anatomical structure of the back, disc injuries and how to avoid them, age related changes in the back, and giving postural advice and preventative care, such as information on how to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
Seminar on Back Pain, City Osteopaths, 6pm-7pm, May 30, free.