Note: HICAPS Go is currently available exclusively in Melbourne, with a national roll out to occur in 2018. New cities will be available and announced gradually as practitioners join the platform.
When it comes to pain, and knowing who to see for varying kinds of pain, we’re often faced with a nice kind of dilemma: Who do I actually go and see about it?
We’re overwhelmed with options and practitioners who have similar goals of alleviating pain, but different ways of going about their practice.
And so, we can be left in a flurry of confusion, falling back on stereotypes and generalisations. For example, chiropractors deal with backs, right? And physios with sporting injuries?
Well, not quite. It’s not always about what kinds of injuries these services deal with, but the nature of how they deal with them.
With the release of the new HICAPS Go app, it’s never been easier to find any of these practitioners in your area. It’s also never been easier to compare quotes before you book your appointment, and claim on the spot in a matter of seconds. Right on your phone.
So if we’re no longer burdened with the task of estimating how much these appointments will cost after health insurance, and if we’re no longer stressed about the uncertainty of how much we’re going to be out of pocket when we’re visiting a specialist, we should probably make sure we’re going to one that suits our needs.
So let’s do it.
According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) National President Phil Calvert, physios can be consulted for a wide range of health conditions. Doctors refer them more than any other health practitioner.
"We are most commonly known for our role in sports rehabilitation or for treating your back, neck and shoulder pain, but in fact physios treat a whole range of conditions and diseases," Calvert tells Mamamia.
"We can be found in hospital in intensive care or in the rehabilitation settings caring for those who have experienced a stroke, been in a motor car accident or helping those with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease to maintain their movement. We can be found working with children with movement difficulties, or in the community working with aged care, mental health, or even at your workplace doing work site safety assessments."
Adding to this, there are also women’s health and pelvic health physiotherapists who are clinical experts in optimising pelvic health during pregnancy and beyond, assisting and treating bladder and bowel dysfunction, pelvic pain or intimacy pain.
To keep it simple, however, Calvert says above all, physiotherapists are experts in "movement and function".
"We use methods based on strong evidence to assist patients with pain, injury and movement disorders, whether they be congenital or acquired," Calvert adds. "Physios work with people to help them avoid re-injury, get themselves ready for an upcoming sporting season or to prevent the onset of chronic diseases. As such, we don’t just treat. We also try to help people stay as healthy, fit and strong as they can, so they can get the most out of their lives."
A spokesperson for Osteopathy Australia told Mamamia you should feel confident going to an osteopath if have an issue "concerning anything to do with your form, support, stability, and movement throughout the body".
"Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit," the spokesperson told us. "Osteopathic treatment uses techniques such as stretching and massage for general treatment of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) along with mobilisation of specific joints and soft tissues."
So what makes an osteopath unique? It's the fact that they treat using just their hands.
"In 1874, Andrew Taylor, a medical doctor living in Missouri, United States, discovered the significance of living anatomy in health and disease.
"He developed a very practical way of treating people using just his hands. Today, osteopaths continue to use their hands to treat their patients in this same tradition."
If your thought process always linked going to a chiro with back pain, you wouldn't necessarily be wrong.
According to Bernard Rupasinghe of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, the primary reason Australian health consumers seek chiropractic care is "for spine-related musculoskeletal disorders, especially back pain, neck pain and headaches".
"Chiropractic is a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, management and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health," he tells Mamamia.
"The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine and pelvis) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. Chiropractic is a non-pharmacological, non-surgical spine care and musculoskeletal-allied healthcare profession with an enviable safety record."
Anna Yerondais, the President of Myotherapy Association Australia, tells Mamamia that a patient would consult a myotherapist if they're "suffering with acute or chronic pain". This is because a myotherapist works in the preventative, corrective and rehabilitative phases of therapy.
"Myotherapists are highly regarded for their extensive knowledge in the treatment and recovery from musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction," she says. "Many may work with a special interest in pregnancy and women's health, ageing and falls prevention, elite sports performance, workplace ergonomics and corporate health.
"Many of the modalities used in order to achieve these goals span across all of these professions; hands-on manual therapy, exercise rehabilitation, addressing family and work stresses and patient education."
Of course, what's clear is that each discipline, at the end of the day, will overlap in some way, shape or form. However, it's good to understand the nuances of each approach - yes, often each practitioner will be working to a similar goal. But it's good and important to note the details of your symptoms to uncover which practitioner can effectively target your pain the best.
Is it muscle pain? Skeletal? Chronic? Back? Well, now you know there's something specific out there for you.
Which have you gone to? Tell us in the comments below.
To find health practitioners in your area, and get quotes, claim or pay on the spot, download HICAPS Go now.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner HICAPS Go.
HICAPS Go is a new way to quote, claim and pay for health insurance. We provide the a quote for your out of pocket costs before you book, allowing you to book your appointments with confidence of knowing how much you will pay. After your appointment, claim and pay in a matter of seconds with the ease of the HICAPS Go app. Discover the new normal by downloading the HICAPS Go app today.