Making People Understand their Bodies and the Sources of their Dysfunction [Interview Transcript]


Guest: Bill Adamson
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Osteopath, Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer Bill Adamson is an expert on the human body and how it works. He helps to make people understand their bodies, the how’s and why’s of their dysfunction. He aims to make people understand their bodies, the how’s and why’s of their dysfunction. He is passionate about neuroscience and the effect of the brain in musculoskeletal injuries.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, understand how Osteopathy services with Errol St Osteopath can give you relief from migraine, sciatica, arthritis, low back pain and others. A session with Bill will involve a thorough history, movement analysis, a diagnosis and an explanation of the diagnosis, hands on care, exercise/postural advice and culminate in you feeling better.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today my guest is Bill Adamson of Errol St Osteo. Bill’s described on his website as someone who laughs loudly, draws poorly, read widely and listens attentively. So let’s have a listen to what Bill’s got to say to us. Bill welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Bill Adamson: Hello, Wayne. Thanks for having me on.

W: My pleasure. Bill tells us a little bit about what it is that you do. What is an osteopath?

B: Osteopathy is a general philosophy in some way of looking how the body works. So what we get trained at university to do is we learn huge amounts of anatomy and physiology, pathology, clinical diagnosis, radiology, essentially it’s been a first 3 to 4 years learning the normalcy of the body, how what we should expect in a way the body moves and operates and functions as well as a lot of pathology, where things go wrong so that as a primary care practitioner an osteopath should be or differentiate between a musculoskeletal condition which is in Australia is our largely our scope of practice. And also something that masquerades as musculoskeletal injury that could need further investigation by sort of a specialist and in the final year or two is where I really study getting enjoyment a lot for my osteopathic training was looking at biomechanical changes. So looking, we are taught about the intricacy of how the body should work in a general sense, and then spent a final year or two looking at when things go wrong and how to predict. So then as an osteopath what we try to do is spend half an hour to an hour with the patient, run through a series orthopedic history and asking about their life, what they’ve been doing, what maybe affecting their presenting condition. And that varies between practitioner and then which I spend you know 5-10 minutes watching them move and try to figure out if they have restrictions within a specific joint or movement pattern that doesn’t seem quite correct. If I can get them to correct that movement pattern by themselves without having to do hands-on stuff, I’ll be a pretty excited osteopath because it’s very easy if that’s the case. But generally speaking I’ll use a few hands-on techniques so that’ll be massage or manipulation or MET stretching, relaxing. Another one I use is by just getting people to calm themselves, assess themselves. In this day and age we have a lot of people who just operate a bit too quickly and a bit too high paced. And so a lot of the benefits of massage or any manual therapy I think is being a bit more skill and just be in a room with one person, their attention not on their phone, not on their computer, not on their TV and the screaming kids at the same time.

W: (chuckles) Now Bill given the hands-on elements of your practice and that your practice is Errol St Osteo, I’m assuming your geographical footprint is Melbourne basically?

B: Yes. For me North Melbourne, near the city. I work, I started my business here just a year ago and I’m practicing out of a GP’s practice. So that’s been a great experience for me getting the trust of the GP’s first of all, and since then working with them. And getting the treat a lot more complex cases which I really find fascinating. You know, complex chronic pain, regional pain syndromes, headaches, a lot of headache patients I see here which is interesting. And one that just on a little … I find headaches fascinating. The World Health Organization says that 70% of headaches comes from muscle and joint pain and yet the majority of people in society tend to think that headache as some sort of esoteric brain thing – that it’s just a normal occurrence. But for a lot of people we see, come in with a recurrent headache is just their clenching their jaw or their holding too much on the neck tension or putting their phone on their shoulder and wondering why they’re getting headaches and just eating a pack of (pain relievers). But yeah, servicing the North of Melbourne, near in the city areas.

W: Fancy you’ve got a lot to answer for. I think the commonest cause of headache from phone is people who walk into lamp posts while they’re texting but that’s just my novice view. (chuckles) Now Bill it says on your website that you’ve treated elite athletes, nursing home nonna’s, weekend warriors, desk bound professionals. What is it that people would recognize as something gone wrong that would cause them to think of osteopathy?

B: Well it depends on the city you’re in. So I know in Australia there’s 2000 osteopaths and about 800 of them are in Victoria and then Sydney has the next high support and in the remaining sites they are very few. So in Melbourne we get people coming with all sorts of breaks and pains. And the brand of osteopathy in Melbourne is quite strong, I know the same in certain parts of Sydney. One of the struggles for osteopathy is to get more osteopaths into the other states around Australia and to get that greater recognition but so what will happen in Melbourne will be different from what will happen in say Perth or Adelaide where you might have maybe 75 osteopaths between the two cities. In Melbourne you have 75 in a very small distance. So for us in Melbourne we get all sorts, we get sport injuries, we get a lot of postural pains, so many ergonomics type injuries and then you also pick up patients that are sort of at the end of their tender where they’ve had an ache or a pain or injury or illness and they’ve seen specialists and doctors and chiropractors and Physio’s and all sorts of things. And that and they’ll turn up in your desk. Sometimes you can help them, sometimes you just say “I have no idea what I can do to help you. I might be able to massage and make you feel a little bit more relax but I don’t think of the, alleviate the cause of the problem.”

W: Now I’m assuming that that uneven distribution of osteopaths is a result of an uneven distribution of university education.

B: Yes, that’s right. In Victoria you have a long history of osteopaths within tertiary institutions … at the moment I think it’s up to about a 120 graduates per year but I’m not sure … of the actual variety there. And then there’s another one in Southern Cross University in Melbourne New South Wales it’s being operational probably at five years now I think. But other than that, we’re not really been in there, there was UWS University Western Sydney in Sydney had an osteo course for numbers of years that got shut down and they opened up a post graduate medical course instead. So it’s gonna be an interesting time over the next 20 years we’ll see osteopathy and manual therapy generally progresses and evolves because it’s all up in the air at the moment as to where we would be.

W: And there are some countries around the world where osteopathy is a post medical qualification, isn’t it?

B: Yeah, that’s right. So it varies per continent really, you’ve got in the States where osteopathy began in 1880’s. It was developed by a medical doctor who was annoyed with using leaches and mercury to sick people in the 1880’s so he started to obsess over anatomy and use anatomy. And so this stuff was phenomenal and at the time he was pretty impressive, it’s all of the stuff you know after 130 years it’s a little bit out of date. But in the States, osteopath have always been doctors so you’ve got GP’s, you’ve got anesthesiology, you’ve got surgeons. And I think there’s only about 10 to 15% of osteopaths in States who practice with hands-on care. They generally have a rule are be more holistic and do tend to go towards family medicine more than a traditional MD in the States. And in the continental Europe you’re a different again. So in continental Europe from what I understand it’s physiotherapist or doctors have to do post grad studies to become osteopaths. And in the UK to four year under graduate qualification, whereas in Australia it’s five years for the under grad and masters.

W: Well of course like anything in the health profession, a mere hundred years just make it’s a new tradition. So it may take a little while yet to get it sorted out.

B: (chuckles) I would suggest so but it’s pretty exciting times in the realms of science and manual medicine and pain science, particularly at the moment and it’s been greatly it’s forwarding and it’s interesting watching. I’m particularly interested in neuroscience and pain science and so the colleagues that I keep in touch with a lot. And it’s fantastic being out into this new concepts within the practice of what we already do. I think that’s gonna be more exciting as we learn more and more of what pain is in and how pain occurs and start to get new theories on how some of these techniques that we use effectively are actually occurring what they’re doing and how they were.

W: On that line Bill as you know most of our audience are clinicians of one sort or another, what would you like clinicians to know about osteopathy? What would you like to say to them?

B: Yeah. We treat more than you think, we’re not just bones. I think that’s the biggest probably with my profession. I’ll get slammed for this by my some of my colleagues, that the name osteopathy does not reflect what we do very well. Bone pathology has very, very little to do with what we have to do. Osteopaths treat musculoskeletal abnormalities that the way I think, it’s so could be anywhere from tip of your toe to top of your head and anything in between. So that would be nice to have that message further out there because it gets a bit crazy when you’re told you’re a bone specialist, when you’re not really at all.

W: See that’s the problem with those Latin and Greek roots to medical words, ‘osteo’ brings to mind instantly ‘bone.’

B: Of course it does. And why wouldn’t it, if we could travel back in time when the founding osteopaths were sitting around trying to determine a name, we just that have to ask them ‘What the hell they were thinking really?’ They knew they were just really bones, there are all other stuff. Hugely onto anatomy and either your muscles and all sorts but osteopathy seem to be the one that stuck with them the most.

W: Yes, well it’s not going to change quickly. Bill we’re running out of time, so let me ask you my favorite question to end the interview. What’s the biggest misconception amongst your patients and colleagues and clients that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

B: Oh, I thought I just answered that one, osteopathy is more than just…

W: Yeah, I thought you might have.

B: Yeah. Look, it is. It is one of those frustrating ones where it’s better now. I’ve come, what, 12 years out from when I first started or day 11 years out from when I first started studying osteopathy and up to that point no one knew anything what it was. And then 6 years ago when I graduated, people started to understand a little bit, “Oh osteopaths. You’re bones, aren’t you? You do something with bones.” But these days when I go out to attend to parties and different thing that with osteopath, is now it’s getting bigger in a sense of they’ve then go “I’ve got this sore. I’ve got this sore back. Do you mind having a look at it?”

W: (laugh)

B: Which is very frustrating but its’ also a sign that we’re getting greater recognition which is nice.

W: It is a good idea that you’re being recognizes more widely and I do appreciate your time this morning and talking to us. Bill Adamson of Errol St Osteo, it’s been a pleasure having you on Health Professional Radio. We must have a longer chat about some of your diverse views and go a little broadly one day.

B: Love to be involved Wayne. I’ve enjoyed the chat. I’m always happy speaking osteo where I can.

W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. If you just joined us, then you just missed a very interesting chat with Bill Adamson – an Osteopath of Errol St Osteopathy. However the good news is, there’s a transcript to this interview available on our webpage at And there’s a SoundCloud archive if you’d like to hear what we had to say and it’s also available on YouTube. This is Wayne Bucklar for Health Professional Radio.

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