- Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and Chiropractors understand that the release of tension in joints, muscles, tethered nerves and fascia allows healing to occur.
- All three professions exist to help you recover from pain and injury.
- All involve “hands on” work. Practitioners use their hands to diagnose and treat the restrictions that are preventing your body from healing.
- Treatment plans are given to patients to ensure continuous improvement as well as injury prevention.
Although Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are very similar, each have different philosophical roots and approaches to patient treatment. All three professions examine, diagnose, form management protocols and treat problems with your joints, bones, soft tissue, muscles and nerves by looking at the function of your body as a whole.
Each profession uses orthopaedic and neurological examination skills, similar to those used by traditional medical practitioners, to examine and diagnose their patients. They will all teach patients a variety of exercises to be carried out at home to reinforce their care between treatment sessions. Until fairly recently, physiotherapy treatment was generally more area-specific than osteopathic and chiropractic treatment. An example to illustrate this would be that if a patient were having physiotherapy treatment for their shoulder, the focus of work and rehabilitation would be in and around the shoulder, the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments. The rehabilitation exercises would be primarily focused on engaging and strengthening these areas as opposed to a holistic consideration of the body and implied stresses to surrounding body parts and the nervous system as whole.
An osteopath, by contrast, would typically approach your body as a whole. For example, they might want to work around your neck, back and arm and give you advice on how to improve your posture. In modern practice, however, physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors would each take into account all relevant indications of the presenting complaint.It is important to understand that neither chiropractic nor osteopathy are simply ‘complementary therapies’; they are formal clinical disciplines, born from the practise of medicine.
Some services seek to move beyond restrictive professional boundaries when determining a course of treatment; be it with a chiropractor, osteopath, physiotherapist or combination of all three. This means that an initial assessment can be the same no matter which practitioner a patient ends up seeing; it’s only after diagnosis that a recommendation for the most appropriate course of treatment is made, which emphasises how interrelated theses fields are.
A major difference between the three fields is in how the practitioners are introduced to their particular specialism. Physiotherapists study anatomy and physiology at university before spending a three-year placement on different wards, enabling them to work with cardiac or respiratory patients until they chose their specialism. Physiotherapists are trained with an emphasis on exercise-based management that is a vital part of the recovery process.
Chiropractors and osteopaths spend between four and five years at specialist colleges and universities that offer degrees in chiropractic and / or osteopathy; practising treatment methods and techniques, studying anatomy and medical subjects, working through conditions and then developing their clinical reasoning skills and management protocols under supervision.
Some key differences
All three work with only with the spine and joints, but osteopathic therapists work with tissues, scars, fascia and fluids as well.
With osteopathic therapy, there is no single approach or protocol that is applied to all patients. Physiotherapy is often protocol driven which means that there is less individual focus on the unique underlying causes of the problem.
The methodology for resolving physical issues is different between each discipline; Osteopathic therapists only use their hands. Chiropractors and Physiotherapists may use other tools like ultrasound or activators to help make adjustments. There is an underlying belief that there is no tool that is as sensitive as human touch. The methodical way in which an osteopathic therapist addresses and removes the restrictions that is causing a problem is driven by using their hands.
The treatment times differ between each field, with physiotherapy focusing more on the body, without wider consideration to the patients’ whole story, their lifestyle, and former injuries that may at first not seem related, but can in fact be profoundly interrelated. Treatment times are typically longer for osteopathic therapy.
Are you in pain? Are you suffering silently? Osteopathy can provide treatment and relief for a variety of conditions including back & neck pain, sciatica, frozen shoulder, joint problems, backache, arthritis and so many other painful conditions.