What is the difference between Chiropractic & Osteopathy

By Chiropractor Tom Greenway

If you were suffering from muscular, joint, ligament or back pain – it’s difficult for you to know what type of treatment you should choose – chiropractic, osteopathy or physiotherapy?

In particular, when there seems to be similarities between chiropractic and osteopathy, how would you know which treatment is best for you? Here, I hope to clear up the confusion!

What is the difference between chiropractic and osteopathy?

The main difference between the professions is historic. Both have been established for over a century with both professions starting independently of each other in the US, and then crossing over to the UK shortly afterwards.

The past decade has seen both of the professions being registered. This means that chiropractic and osteopathy are regulated in the same way that medicine is.

 What are the practical difference between the treatments?

Chiropractors are the most ‘joint specific’ of all the professions. The approach being that if a joint, particularly in the spine, is locked then it needs to be freed. They use manipulation to help move the joint, restoring the mobility, and thereby improving flexibility and reducing pain.

Manipulation is utilised by osteopaths and physiotherapists, but the approach is slightly different in that an osteopath will look more at the muscles and how that affects joint mobility. Restoring muscle function will improve joint mobility and thereby improve flexibility and reducing pain.

The three professions are increasingly seen as working together under the umbrella of ‘physical therapies’. For the first time chiropractors and osteopaths worked with physiotherapists at the Olympic Games in London.

 Which conditions are best suited to chiropractic or osteopathy?

Chiropractors and osteopaths can treat all types of muscle, joint and ligament injuries. In my experience chiropractors and osteopaths work extensively with back and neck pain, but increasingly both professions are treating more and more muscle and joint injuries. They can also help with whiplash injuries and neck related headaches or vertigo.

How will you know who to choose if you are in pain?

In reality the professions are more similar than they are different. Good therapists from any of the professions have a tool box of treatments that they will utilise on their patients. They will try to determine which treatment and exercise program will work best for the particular problem they have at that time.

Each practitioner from either profession has a different way of delivering treatment. Some will seem to be stronger and some will be gentler.

The priority is that you feel confident that they have your best interests at heart, have listened to you, know what is wrong, discussed the options of care available, and will provide the treatment that will best suit you.

 Are you in pain and in need of treatment?

At the Waldegrave Clinic you will find chiropractic, physiotherapy and complementary therapies. Just call our friendly and informed reception and they will advise who you are best to see. If necessary a phone call can be arranged with a practitioner before you book for an appointment

You may also be interested in Should you see a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor?

Tom Greenway, Chiropractor and Proprietor of The Waldegrave Clinic

Tom Greenway, Chiropractor and Proprietor of The Waldegrave Clinic

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