5 Tips to Help Your Child Avoid Back Pain!

With most kids back at school this week, its a timely reminder of the importance of wearing back packs correctly.  Incorrect loading can result in children experiencing low back pain, upper back pain, rib sprains, neck pain and headaches.  

I unfortunately experienced this first hand as a child.  Way back in the dark ages before laptops and iPads were common place, we used to cart all our books to and from school everyday.  My bag weighed a tonne!!! Needless to say, I did not wear the backpack correctly and preferred to sling it over one shoulder, like all the “cool kids”!  I started experiencing sharp pain in my upper back slightly to the right side – the side that I carried my bag, particularly when breathing in.  After a lot of complaining, my mum took me to an Osteopath who diagnosed me with an upper rib sprain.  If you don’t know what that is please read our blog here for more information.  

In a nutshell, with carrying a heavy bag on just one side, my ribs were being compressed and thus strained every time I lugged my back pack around.  My osteopath advised me to carry my back pack correctly.  I was of course very reluctant, however the pain was so bad that I eventually relented and my upper back went back to normal – no more pain! I had learnt my lesson!

Here are some our tips for fitting a back pack correctly

  • Always wear both shoulder straps rather than slinging your backpack with one strap on one shoulder. It takes a moment longer but this simple habit can help prevent problems.


  • Adjust the shoulder straps so the backpack is high on your back and the shoulder straps are comfortable on your shoulders. The pack should not extend past your waist—it should ride an inch or more above your hips.


  • Readjust the straps when you are wearing different thicknesses of clothing so they are not too tight nor too loose.


  • Your backpack should not sway from side to side as you walk. That can lead to chafing from the shoulder straps and from rubbing against your back. A stable load is better.


  • If the backpack has a waist strap or chest strap, you should use it. Waist straps help to distribute the weight load to the hips, relieving shoulder pressure. A chest strap helps keep the shoulder straps in place and reduces swaying of the pack.

With your pack fitted and positioned properly, you should be able to wear it even for running without it swaying.

Some common mistakes made when wearing a backpack

  • Using only one strap – slinging (exactly what I did as a kid!)

It is easy and stylish to carry your backpack slung over one shoulder, using only one strap. However, this position puts all of the pressure on one shoulder. You cannot walk with good posture with a load of several pounds on one shoulder only.

We’ve found that wearing a backpack slung over one shoulder can lead to low back pain, upper back pain, rib sprains, neck pain and headaches.  Even if you switch back and forth between shoulders, you are walking off-balance. This puts a strain on all the muscles, ligaments and joints in your spine, not to mention your hips and core.


  •  Wearing it hanging too low

Wearing a backpack low on your back increases the pressure on the shoulders. This position may lead to shoulder and lower back strain.  This low back position may force you to lean forward which places pressure on the lower back.

  • Too heavy

It is recommended that children should carry no more than 10 percent to 20 percent of their body weight in their backpack.  You may have to help lighten your child’s backpack. If you can’t lighten the load enough, consider a rolling backpack for your child.a backpack low on your back increases the pressure on the shoulders. This position may lead to shoulder and lower back strain.  This low back position may force you to lean forward which places pressure on the lower back.

Hopefully all you mums and dads out there found this useful.  If you have, please share it with other friends who might find it helpful.  I hope you and your children enjoy the school year!    Please feel free to email me directly with any questions to skye@pakenhamosteopathy.com.au


How to Keep Healthy During the Silly Season

With the festive season in full swing, Christmas parties and catch ups can spell disaster for our health.  This time of year is often filled with boozy get-togethers, “special occasion” foods and a tendency to fall out of our regular exercise routine.

If you want to end 2018 on a high and enter 2019 with some positive momentum here’s a few tips we’ve put together to help you not only survive the silly season, but thrive in it!

  1. Drink lots of water

The weather is heating up so make sure you take a water bottle with you everywhere you go.  Sipping on water all day helps keep your hands busy and your tummy full. Often the body tricks us into thinking we are hungry when actually our bodies are thirsty

2. Make better alcohol choices

Choose drinks with a lower calorie count such as mixing spirits with soda and not soft drink.  Drinks such as the old-school shandy can be a better choice as they are only the alcohol content

3. Don’t binge drink

Take it slowly! We can often guzzle drinks but remember to enjoy every sip

4. Diarise your exercise

Just like you wouldn’t miss an important meeting or social event, block out time in your diary for exercise

5. Enlist the help of a friend

Studies have shown that when we are accountable to someone we are more likely to follow through.  So organise a walk or jog with a friend – chances are you’ll stick to your exercise routine

6. Take part in a December (or January!) health or fitness challenge

There are gyms around such as F45 Pakenham that offer challenges at different times of the year to keep your motivation up.  There are lots of online fitness and healthy eating programs that can also keep you accountable.

7. Assist with organising your Christmas party

If there’s a Christmas party at your work, get involved so you can have some control over the activity and the menu.  Same with your family Christmas…. Offer to bring a healthy snack, salad or meal so you’re guaranteed a healthy alternative

8. Find incidental ways to move your body

With daylight savings, there’s a lot more time to get outside of an evening.  Playing chasey with the kids in the back yard, or having a game of 1:1 basketball can elevate your heart rate and get your metabolism burning through calories

9. Don’t over eat

Many Christmas events have finger food and this can be a trap.  Often we don’t know exactly how much we’re consuming if it’s not laid out on a plate.  So get organised and eat before you go to an event, or grab a plateful and commit to only eating the food on it

10. Choose wisely at the buffet

Make wise choices when filling your plate.  A good rule of thumb is to cover half your plate with salad, another quarter with meat and the other quarter with green veggies.  Try to avoid carbohydrate dense foods like potatoes and pasta.

Hopefully you find this list helpful and you thrive, not just survive, this silly season.

Merry Christmas and stay safe everyone!

Don’t ruin your feet this summer! Get Archies Thongs!

We’re now coming into thong-wearing season so it’s the perfect time to pop into the clinic, and buy a pair (or two!) of our Archies Thongs!  You’re welcome to try them on – we really want you know how good they feel!  They’ve been running off the shelves since we started stocking them over a year ago.

Regular thongs are often very firm under foot and are completely flat on the sole.  This can cause issues in the inner arch of your foot – it’s left completely unsupported.  And that’s the reason why you often get sore, tired feet after a day kicking around in the the old Havvies! 


What’s so good about Archies?

  1. They have a built in arch support but…
  2. They look like normal thongs! The arch is discreet so your mates wont know the difference! 
  3. They are made of cushioning foam that help with shock absorption
  4. There is no plug, so no more “blow outs” 
  5. They’re podiatry approved
  6. Great Christmas stocking filler!


All our staff have a pair and we all think Archies are awesome!  They’re available in 6 fashionable colours and at just $35, they won’t break the bank.  They’re a great stocking filler for Christmas too!

Originally, they were designed by a health professional who was tired of patients complaining of sore, aching feet and legs over the warmer months.  He knew that thongs were very much a way of life for most Aussies, so rather than try and encourage patients into more orthotic-friendly shoes, he came up with his own new and improved thongs.  They provide the same amount of support that you would find in an ‘off the shelf’ orthotic, however they look just like normal thongs.

Archies Thongs are made from a super comfortable foam material which helps with shock absorption – something severely lacking most other  thongs.  The orthotic arch support found within the thongs may help to reduce strain from feet and lower limbs.  But don’t think you have to have a foot, knee or hip problem to wear them….  Archies Thongs can be worn by anyone who just wants an unbelievably comfortable thong.


So if you care about how you look, your health, and your wellbeing Archies Thongs are the choice for this summer.  Once you start wearing Archies Thongs you will never want to take them off! 

Is Osteopathy Covered by Medicare?

Osteopathy is a great treatment option for so many conditions including chronic pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia and back pain, and there are ways to access Medicare rebates and funding.

To be able to access things like a Medicare rebate for Osteopathy, it should be really easy, but unfortunately Medicare rebates are not always that simple!

We want to be able to assist you to access the help that you need, as quickly as you can so we would love to help explain the Medicare rebate process a little more.

It can be a really simple process once you understand it, so let us help you wrap your head around Medicare and how it can work for your Osteopathy needs.


The short answer, is YES!

The long answer is yes, but there are a few conditions.

A Medicare rebate for Osteopathy can be accessed under the Chronic Disease Management Plan (formerly known as an EPC Program or the Enhanced Primary Care Program).

Firstly, you must meet the criteria, and that is generally centred around ‘chronic’ conditions, meaning something that you have suffered with for longer than 3 months.

Secondly, you need to have the appropriate referral form from your GP, who needs to send you to a specific Osteopathy practice (hopefully us, we’d love to help!)



The Medicare CDM Program allows for a total of up to 5 rebated consults to any referred allied health practitioner, per calendar year – that could include Osteopathy, dietetics, podiatry, speech pathology, and the list goes on.

So, for instance, your GP might refer you for 3 osteopathy consults, and 2 podiatry consults.

This number is renewed each calendar year, but you will need a new referral each year.


The current Medicare rebate (as at June 2016) is $52.95 per Osteopathic consult.

That means that the rebate is $52.95 for an initial consult, and any subsequent review consults that you might be recommended for as well.  

Unfortunately, we cannot bulk bill Medicare for Osteopathy at our practice, so there will always be a gap payment (out-of-pocket expense).  Generally, this is around $70 for your initial consult (which is 60 mins of comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, planning and treatment) and around $38 for any subsequent consults (half hour duration).


It is a tricky little process – the joys of working with a government body!

At our practice, what you need to do is actually pay the full fee upfront yourself first, and then we can process the Medicare rebate and get it back to you on the spot.

Specifically, here are the steps:

  1. You need to pay the full fee on a DEBIT card
  2. We swipe your Medicare card and access the $52.95 rebate for you
  3. We swipe your DEBIT card again, and put the $52.95 back onto that card on-the-spot.
  4. (You cannot use a CREDIT card for this process)


To wrap it all together:

  • Yes, you can get a Medicare rebate for Osteopathy, using the CDM Program
  • You need a GP referral, and the right type of physical condition
  • You can get $52.95 rebate for up to 5 visits per year
  • There will always be a gap fee
  • We can process the rebate on-the-spot, straight back onto your debit card

If you have any questions at all regarding the CDM process, please call 5941-4157 or email us via the Contact Us page, and we are more than happy to answer them.

Alternatively, get to your GP ASAP and ask for a referral to see a Osteopath who can help you get moving well, feeling great, pain free and back to doing what you love!


With this week being National Pain Week 2018, I thought it might be helpful to give some information about what pain (specifically back pain) actually is and attempt to demystify it.  Knowledge is power so this article gives some insight into what pain is, why it’s there and what we can all do about it.


It’s estimated that up to 90% of the population will experience back pain at some point in our lifetime.  And it is “normal” for that pain to persist for up to 6 weeks. Most of us get the odd ache and pain and within a day or so, it’s resolved.  This may not be the case for everyone so there is no need to unduly worry.  Often the factors that have caused the pain to begin with have been present long term so the resolution can be slightly longer than many of us anticipate.  


We’ve all heard the horror stories of people with back pain that plunges them into chronic, persistent pain but the statistics actually tell us that the vast majority of back pain is not serious, in fact around 99%. The remaining 1% is mostly fractures, and can include cancer, but these a very rare occurrences.  So the overwhelming odds are that you’ll recovery fully within 6 weeks and it is not serious – a comforting thought!  


Another thing to keep in mind about back pain is that it is no different to any other pain in our bodies such as shoulder, ankle or knee pain although people do tend to worry more about it.  This may be due to the proximity to the spine. This fear is what can make pain worse. Pain itself is normal and nothing to be scared of. It is a protective mechanism that has evolved help us out. You would not want to live without it!

We are constantly telling our patients that pain isn’t a good indicator of injury.  By this, we mean that you can have loads of pain, but very little damage. We often use the analogy of getting a paper cut or a bee sting – these hurt like hell but they’re not really causing us much damage.  So again, please do not worry or become fearful if you’re back is really paining.




Our advice would be to see an Osteopath.  Osteopaths have the training to carry out thorough examinations to determine if you’re back pain is serious (within that 1% noted above) – crucial for quick referral to a specialist.  Our clinical procedures test the nerves and nerve roots as well as muscle strength, sensation and reflexes.


If we find that the pain is just mechanical (eg. joint, muscle, ligament, disc injury) then we can provide you with basic advice such as safe exercises to perform to encourage healing.  We also work extensively to identify any aggravating factors, such as work, sitting posture, stress etc. which need to be avoided in the short-term. Learning more about what helps you and what makes you worse is important to help you manage your back pain. Our osteopaths can help you do this.  As the title suggests, knowledge really is power – the more you know about pain and your back, the better your recovery. It’s been found that people who feel they need to protect their backs can also have worse outcomes – so arm yourself with knowledge!



  • Most people experience back pain at some point
  • It’s normal for pain to last up to 6 weeks
  • 99% of cases of back pain at NOT serious
  • Fearfulness or worrying about pain makes for worse outcomes
  • Pain is not an accurate indicator or injury


Our osteopaths aim to provide you with the necessary information about your back pain so you can fast track your recovery and get back to doing the things that you love sooner.


Make an appointment today by booking online at: https://www.pakenhamosteopathy.com.au/book-online/ or calling our lovely reception staff on 5941-4157. Or visit http://www.nationalpainweek.org.au/ for more information on pain.


How Much Does Osteopathic Treatment Cost?

There are many factors that contribute to our pricing structure.  Here are some insights into what is involved in Osteopathic training and treatment at Pakenham Osteopathy…


Osteopathy is a regulated health profession through AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) which is the same body that governs GPs, physiotherapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and dentists among others.  To fulfil our registration, one of the requirements is that we continue our professional development throughout our career. As such, we are always updating our knowledge and skills with the latest research.


At Pakenham Osteopathy, all our Osteopaths have invested 5 years at University mastering their craft, compared with physiotherapy which is a 4 year degree.  So we really have a vast knowledge of the anatomy of the body and pathologies that can exist.

We spend up to 60 minutes with each new patient.  This time allows us to hear your story to fully understand why the problem has occurred and what activities or postures need to be modified.  


An initial consultation at Pakenham Osteopathy is typically much longer than would be undertaken at a physiotherapist or chiropractor.


We focus on what outcome you’re looking for, or said another way, what goals you have.  Whilst for most, initially it is just to get out of pain, we delve deeper into what the injury has prevented you from doing and what steps we can take to get you back there.  We also aim to have you fitter, stronger and better than your pre-injury state.


At the end of the consultation we provide you with a comprehensive, tailored management plan that includes a diagnosis (what the problem is), how long we think it will take to recover, the number of treatments required and any exercises or activities that may help.


Our follow up appointments are for half an hour and during this time we discuss how the previous session went and we reassess you to provide the best treatment.  These follow-up consultations are typically at least 50% longer than a standard follow up at a physiotherapist or chiropractor. We always touch on your goals and reiterate the journey or pathway to get you there.


Image result for hicaps goAs for our fees at Pakenham Osteopathy, if you have private health insurance with extras cover, Osteopathy is often rebated.  Depending on your level of cover you may get back anywhere from $8 to the full consultation fee. Check with your individual health fund for how much you can expect to claim back.  Alternatively, set up Hicaps Go on your phone (download to iphone or android here), and you can get quotes for your specific policy.  It’s super easy and will save you time when you do come to claim. For further information about Hicaps Go please click here.


Our consultation fees at Pakenham Osteopathy are: $126 for a new patient and $91 for a follow up appointments.


So in summary….

  • Osteopaths are required to continue their education to keep up to date with the latest research and advancements in treatment
  • All Osteopaths at Pakenham Osteopathy have completed 5 years at University
  • We have long consultation times – Initial consults are 60 minutes in length, subsequent visits are 30 minutes
  • These long consultation times allow us to hear your story and tailor treatment that is specific to you and your condition
  • Management plans are always provided so you know what’s wrong, how long you’d expect it to last, and what frequency of treatment you’ll need to get back on your feet again.


If you have any body aches and pains, then we believe you could benefit from Osteopathy. For further information about our services please check out our website here.  To make an appointment, click here book online here or call the clinic on 5941-4157.


We hope this has been informative, and we look forward to seeing you in the clinic soon!

3 Steps to Avoiding Neck & Back Pain at Your Desk

We often get asked in the clinic “how can I avoid getting a sore neck or back when I’m at my desk all day?”

So here’s my top 3 tips to stop postural pain…


  1.     Get an Ergonomic assessment done of your workstation.  If you’re in a medium to large company your OH&S officer is the one to approach about this.  If you’re not at a large workplace, and perhaps are on a computer at home a lot, there are certain areas you should be assessing.  
    •     Chair height: you should be able to rest both feet comfortably on the floor.  Your knees and hips should be at right angles and the back support should fit snugly into the natural curve of your lower back
    •     Foot or wrist supports: these are available as an additional aid if your desk height is fixed, in the case of your feet and you cannot reach the ground.  The wrist support can help support your forearms so that pressure is taken off them
    •     Desk height: sit-stand desks very popular currently as they allow for changes in position.  This is key to avoiding neck and back pain. Our body’s crave movement so these desks allow for changes in body position.  If you have a fixed desk, then getting the chair height right is even more important
  2. Get up and move as much as possible:  Here are some ways to get more movement into your day at the desk
    •     Set a reminder in your computer so that every 20-30 mins you are reminded to get up and move
    •     Stand up to take phone calls
    •     Walk to the printer regularly
    •     If a colleague comes to talk at your desk, stand and chat with them upright
    •     Have walking or standing meetings
  3. Exercise when seated: there are some great stretches to do when you’re at your desk to help lengthen out stiff, tight muscles – again movement is the key!
    •     Turn your head both ways
    •     Roll your shoulders
    •     Twist your upper body by grabbing on the back support behind you with the opposite hand
    •     March your legs up and down on the spot

So that’s my 3 step plan to help you manage your neck and back pain when at a desk.  

Below is a great overview of how to set up your workstation:


But if you’re in pain now please don’t put up with it any longer, make an appointment today by clicking here or by calling the clinic on 5941 4157.

Thanks for reading!