Day at the office: Osteopaths - they've got your back

Working in the CBD in Wellington means osteopath Vicky Tate regularly treats people suffering from Occupational Overuse ...
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Working in the CBD in Wellington means osteopath Vicky Tate regularly treats people suffering from Occupational Overuse Syndrome.

For osteopaths, work is no joke - but occasionally they do have to pull your leg. 

Wellingtonian Vicky Tate hasn't looked back once since she started working as an osteopath 11 years ago, because she sees the improvements she makes to people's lives.

One of her biggest career victories came when an Ironman competitor required her help with chronic back pain.

Throughout his training programme, she treated him regularly, managing to get him to a level where his symptoms were low-grade and he was able to compete again.

He even competed again the following year.

Seeing his race times improve was a satisfying feeling, Tate says. 

Sports injuries are very common in Wellington, she says.

"Wellingtonians are an active bunch; weekend warriors who get out and play a sport without training well for it, which leads to muscular strains such as quads, hamstrings or achilles."

Osteopathy is a practice where the osteopath does not only relieve pain, but can significantly improve the person's condition. 

"You really see the overall outcome on people's health," Tate says.

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Because her Thorndon office is near ministry workers, she often treats Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS).

Tate also helps reduce symptoms of Parkinson's and arthritis.

"It's like pulling out the right tool for the right patient," she says.

Another of the common ailments she treats regularly is migraines.

"There are so many factors involved in migraines, so because our approach is very holistic, it may be why we have some success," she says.

"With migraines, often what happens is that we can actually help [people] in regards to reducing the frequency and the intensity of them."

Tate studied for five years at the Unitec Institute of Technology, the only institution in New Zealand to offer a master of osteopathy course.

Osteopaths New Zealand president Jonathan Lloyd-Paine, originally from the UK, says there's a much greater uptake of osteopathy in New Zealand than there is the UK.

"There are more osteopaths per capita in New Zealand than there are in the UK."

Although he does not believe there are significant regional variations in terms of what patients present with, he says there is a lot of paediatric work done in the Wellington area. 

"They see the full breadth of patients; sporting injuries, occupational injuries, developmental problems."

WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY?

* An alternative practice that emphasises the physical manipulation of joints, muscles, nerves, circulation and internal organs.

* Using skilled evaluation, diagnosis, and hands-on techniques, osteopaths can identify important types of dysfunction in the body.

 - Stuff

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