What is the difference between an osteopath, a chiropractor and a physiotheraptist?

It wouldn't be fair of me to generalise about other people do; in each profession, there is a lot of variation in the way individual practitioners work. You can find out more about what I do and why I do it, though, by looking at the page about my overall approach and the page that talks about my approach to complex, long-standing and difficult-to-treat conditions.

How long do your treatments go for?

I usually treat for about 45 minutes in the city; closer to an hour for an initial treatment. In Mortdale, my intitial treatments (or treatments when I haven't seen someone for some time) are for about 45 minutes, and subsequent treatments are for about half an hour, unless you ask for a longer one. I try to run on time, but I try not to be constrained by time.

My aim is to get you well as quickly as possible, and to treat underlying causes rather than just presenting symptoms. That usually means taking some time with each treatment. If you are on a deadline, please discuss this when making your booking, to ensure there will be enough time.

How much do you charge?

Each session in the CBD currently costs $130. I don't have a different fee for initial sessions; each session costs the same.

At Mortdale, initial sessions are $120, and subsequent half-hour treatments are $80. If you prefer a longer treatment at Mortdale, 45 minute treatments are $120 and one-hour treatments are $160.

Is this covered by Medicare?

There are some very specific sessions covered by Medicare, but unless your GP has specifically referred you for them, then my treatments don't come under Medicare.

Do you take credit cards, including AMEX?

I take AMEX in the CBD, but not at Mortdale.

Will my insurance cover this? Do you take HICAPS?

Your health insurance policy will probably cover this, but you will need to check with your provider about the level of cover you have. I have HICAPS, which means that we can swipe your card; you only need to pay for the gap

What will happen?

I will talk with you about your medical history, assess what is happening, and then provide you with hands-on treatment.

How many treatments will I need?

Unfortunately that is impossible to say. It will probably be more than one, but sometimes one is all it takes. Some conditions have taken years to develop, and take a number of treatments to resolve. What I can say is that we will make joint decisions about each treatment. I won't make you commit to any thing in advance; if I think you will need more then I will explain why, and I won't pressure you into accepting treatments that you don't feel you require.

Will it hurt?

I use a wide range of techniques, and some of them can be quite uncomfortable. Most are very gentle. It isn't usually necessary for techniques to be uncomfortable, but if I avoid an uncomfortable technique and use something more gentle, it sometimes means that the treatment will take longer. If you have any concerns please talk to me about them.

Do I have to get undressed?

Not if you don't want to. My basic approach is to ask the patient to leave on any clothing that can be kept on without compromising the treatment, and to ask the patient to remove any items of clothing where doing so will enable me to treat them more effectively. I use towels to drape people where items of clothing need to be removed, but if you have any concerns please talk to me about them.

Do you "crack" joints?

I can, and sometime do. There are usually alternative ways to release stuck joints, and I usually use them as my first choice, and check with my patients if I think that the "click" will offer the best results. If you prefer not to have your joints "clicked", then let me know, and I definitely won't do it. If you prefer to have it done, I'll try to accommodate you!

Do I need a referral?

No, you don't need a referral. Osteopaths are primary health-care professionals, which means that you don't need to see anyone else before seeing me.

Are you a doctor?

Osteopaths are legally entitled to designate themselves as "Dr", and correspondence addressed to me from the Australian Health Professionals Registration Authority calls me "Dr John Smartt". To avoid confusion, though, I normally avoid using that title. I'm quite happy being described as an osteopath.

Do you take workers' compensation cases, and do other forms of compensation-related treatment?

No. I used to, but two things caused me to stop. The main reason is that I like to treat people with the smallest number of treatments possible, and I find that, by the time I have completed the paper work and had approval to start that normally operate with these things, in many cases I could have completed the work required. I also find that some people have had so much difficulty to get their situation accepted, and to be taken seriously with it, that by the time they come to me they no longer believe that their course to recovery may be quite quick. This obviously doesn't apply to everyone, but I have experienced enough of it to prefer to avoid that system. So if you have been injured at work, I am, of course, happy to treat you, but I will charge you the normal amount for the treatment. Check first, but you will possibly be able to claim some of this back. I will then try to help you to get well as quickly as possible, as I always do.

Are there side effects?

As with virtually all forms of medical treatment, there can be side effects to treatment by an osteopath. It is quite common to feel tired after a treatment; particularly for people who have been running on adrenaline, and who's body recognises, through the treatment, that it has a lot of work to do to resolve its problems. (Other people sometimes feel more energised after a treatment; it all depends.) Some people may also feel sore after a treatment, even when the treatment has been very gentle. This can happen for a number of reasons. In some cases, the patient's body starts to move in different ways, and muscles get sore because they are now doing work which they haven't for a while. In some cases, the path to you getting well may involve your body provoking an inflammatory reaction in some of your tissues; this can be temporarily unpleasant.

What training do you need to do to become an osteopath?

In my case, I have an undergraduate degree and a masters degree in osteopathy: five years at university altogether. That is really just the start, though. Learning in this field is ongoing and never ending. I am required to do 25 hours of continuing professional development each year, but I do much more than that in formal study. I also read a lot, talk to a lot of practitioners (osteopaths and other health professionals), meet with other osteopaths to practice new skills, and sometimes sit in to watch other practitioners work. I also get treated by a range of pracitioners, partly because I do my best work when my own body is functioning well, and partly to learn from their skills.

In addition to that, I learn from every patient I work on. Humans are endlessly complex and incredibly varied; each treatment is a learning experience, about what is happening for you personally and what you personally need. None of that feels like hard work; helping people to get as well as possible, as soon as possible, is an absolute passion.


John Smartt, Osteopath
Bachelor of Applied Science (Osteopathy) Master of Osteopathy (UWS)

p: 0409-777-604

a SYDNEY CBD: Suite 12, Level 10, The Dymocks Building, 428 George St Sydney, NSW 2000 (CBD on-line bookings): Wed, Thu, Fri
a MORTALE: Mortdale Allied Health, Shop 1, 118 Railway Pde, Mortdale, NSW 2223 (
Mortdale on-line bookings): Wed, Sat and Sun.


I look upon the treating of effects as being as unwarranted as it would be for the fireman of a city to fight the smoke and pay no attention to the cause that produces it.

AT Still, the "discoverer" of osteopathy,