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Chiropractor vs. Osteopath: What’s The Difference?


If you are experiencing back pain; aches in your joints; muscular discomfort or ligament stresses and strains it is likely that much of your day is consumed by it. Entirely pervasive, such aggressive pain is also likely to disrupt sleep and can quickly become all encompassing. The good news is that help is available. But it can be difficult choosing whether to see a chiropractor or an osteopath. So, what are the real differences between the two?

More alike than different

In essence, the work of a chiropractor and an osteopath are much the same. Both are direct treatments where the practising professional employs studied and perfected techniques and processes to affect positive change in the problem areas. Perhaps the most important aspect, however, is that both professions are regulated – in much the same way as medicine and other clinical treatments are. It is important to ensure that the practice you are visiting and the individuals providing treatment are registered to practice with all the requisite qualifications.

What patients should expect from chiropractic treatments

Chiropractors are trained to provide an extensive examination and diagnosis of any issues related to bones, joints and muscles. Also able to help with issues relating to the nerves, they typically specialise in problems with the spine and back function.

Once diagnosed, a personalised treatment plan will be discussed with the patient before being put in place. Treatment will typically consist of two forms – direct and indirect. Direct treatment will work on the problem areas through manually making targetted adjustments to reduce and relieve pain and promote better joint movement.

What to expect from osteopathy treatment

Osteopaths train to provide a full treatment for the body’s strains and stresses, focusing particularly on the muscles, ligaments and joints. They also work on improving the nervous system where necessary.

Following diagnosis, an agreed treatment plan will start. Again able to provide direct and indirect help, direct osteopath treatment will be through a process called mobilisation. This will carefully and adequately massage, manipulate and stretch the affected parts of the body. This should provide swift comfort and relief allowing the affected areas to become more functional and reduce instances of pain considerably.

Both professions are also able to augment their direct treatment with indirect help. This will be through discussing relevant adaptations in lifestyle – such as dietary changes, improved exercise regimes and further investigation, perhaps through MRI scans and X-Rays, should a problem require it.