Osteopath. Chiropractor. Physiotherapist. Does it matter who you see? What are the differences?


Which practitioner?

It’s an issue that has left many people completely confused. If you have an injury and are in pain, should you see an Osteopath, a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist? Which will be right for you and your particular problem?

The truth is, there are far many more similarities than there are differences. All have the same objective – to decrease pain and fix an injury. Each of them aims to diagnose and treat problems related to muscles, joints, nerves and bones. They will use varying hands-on techniques to mobilise joints, reduce muscular tension and enable the body to move in the way it was designed. And all will look toward long term goals, using lifestyle and nutritional advice as well as exercises and other preventative measures to prevent symptoms happening again.

The three professions are all regulated by UK law and have to adhere to their own sets of stringent guidelines.
You are just as likely to see an Osteopath treating backache, shoulder pain or a sports injury, as a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist. In fact some patients have been known to use more than one discipline at once!

Naturally, being an Osteopathic Clinic, we’re always going to say that Osteopathy is the superior therapy. And it’s true that there are many advantages in taking the osteopathic route. It is a whole body treatment based on the principle that every part of the body is interrelated – and that manipulating parts of the musculoskeletal system can promote self-healing. Osteopathy offers a holistic approach, aiming to discover the root cause and not just treat the symptoms.

We will often use gentle methods such as palpation to identify weaknesses – then treat them by releasing and relaxing muscles as well as stretching joints, using massage techniques, rhythmic joint movements and muscle release. This will generally be followed by lifestyle and exercise advice to prevent re-occurrence and enable self-care.
Osteopathy is also endorsed on the NHS website for certain conditions. Despite it being a complementary treatment, it is regularly used in tandem with other therapies as well as conventional medicine. Here at the practice, we may refer patients to their doctors or a specialist if we think this is needed.

The predominant difference Chiropractors have, is that they will often concentrate on the spine and the specific alignment of the vertebrae. One of the treatment techniques used by Chiropractors is to “adjust” or “manipulate” the vertebrae, applying a specific and controlled pressure to the bone which can help to improve its movement pattern. Chiropractors are also said to be more joint focused and will often take x-rays to aid diagnosis.

Physiotherapists can be found within private practice – but are also likely to be found in hospitals, community health centres and some GP surgeries. They will generally be consulted when someone is affected by injury, illness and disability and will again, use a combination of manual therapy, education and advice. The treatment given will often have a more muscular approach followed by tailored exercise programmes.

Whichever you choose, the success of any therapy is personal preference – what has worked for you in the past, and how well you respond to an individual practitioner. Many of our patients have built up a good working relationship with their Osteopath and both have endeavoured together, to find the treatment regime that’s right for them.

For more information or to make an appointment with one of our Osteopaths, contact us on 01925-752264