Basically, there is a lot of overlap between our professions. However, although Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are very similar, they are each derived from independent schools of thought and their approach to patient treatment differs.
Each profession is trying to achieve the same goals by treating joints and musculoskeletal problems to increase movement and strength, decrease pain and help return you to function, but use slightly different techniques.
Read more for a brief outline on the focus each profession bases their techniques and treatments.
A Chiropractor primarily focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on manipulation of the spine.
Chiropractors work on the premise that biomechanical and structural derangement of the spine affects the nervous system. The nervous system controls all bodily functions, facilitating the body to heal itself. By restoring the structural integrity of the spine, pressure is reduced on the sensitive neurological tissue, consequently correcting nerve, muscle and joint disorders.
Chiropractors use their hands to adjust the joints of your spine and limbs where signs of restricted movement are found. Gentle, specific manipulation techniques help to restore normal body movement. Treatment aims to make you move better and more freely.
An Osteopath uses a holistic approach by focusing on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit.
Osteopaths look at vascular health, nerve health, musculoskeletal health and mental health to assist with a complaint.
Treatment is hands-on using techniques such as stretching and massage for general treatment of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) along with mobilisation and manipulation of specific joints and soft tissues using direct or indirect techniques.
As well as musculoskeletal problems, some osteopaths claim to be able to treat such conditions as headaches, migraines, painful periods, digestive disorders, depression and colic in babies.
A Physiotherapist is experienced in movement and function and uses diagnostic methods to assist them to correct movement and musculoskeletal disorders, which may have been present from birth, acquired through accident or injury, or are the result of aging or life-changing events.
Physiotherapists focus on the biomechanics of the muscles and how this impacts the other body systems and functions.
Treatments vary from using a range of hands-on manipulation and massage techniques, electrical therapies, acupuncture/dry needling and exercise to heal and restore movement.
Physiotherapists help both those with current injuries as well as those wishing to avoid injury and take a proactive approach to their health and fitness.
Physiotherapists are also involved in rehabilitation after surgery, eg, knee and hip replacement etc.
WHO DO YOU CHOOSE?
The best therapist for you will be the one whom you feel best understands your issue, who listens, who communicates and who works the hardest for you to get the results you want.