Has the question “what is the difference between an osteopath, chiropractor and physiotherapist?” ever crossed your mind? Yes? Well, you’re not alone! This happens to be one of the most common questions I get asked as an Osteopath and I appreciate that it is quite confusing! Let me try clarify things for you.
Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and Chiropractors are all,
• Allied health practitioners
• Registered under Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Association
• Complete a minimum four years tertiary education
• Complete ongoing CPD
• Considered manual therapists, in that we use our hands to diagnose and treat
If I break it down simply;
Chiropractors work with the diagnosis and manipulation (or cracking) of the skeletal system, being your joints. They believe that body complaints originate from the nervous system so the emphasis on treatment is through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine. Some exercise prescription can be given; however they are predominantly manipulative in their approach.
Physiotherapists identify and diagnose injuries of the body using functional movement-based rehabilitation and a range of soft tissue massage techniques. There is a strong muscular focus on treatment with emphasis being on strengthening and stretching. Because of this, Physiotherapists are based in hospitals, nursing homes and sports centres, as well as private practice.
Osteopaths tend to look at “the whole picture” in terms of diagnosis and treatment, in that we assess the joints, muscles and the spine. We use a range of different hands-on techniques including massage and stretching like the physiotherapists; joint manipulation and articulation like the chiropractors; and we also prescribe exercise-based rehabilitation, ergonomic advice, postural education and advice. Out of the three therapies, you generally would receive the most hands-on care with Osteopathy.
In summary, the “simple” answer would be, all three professions address the same presentations and injuries, just with different approaches. We all aim to achieve the same result being a pain-free, functional patient.
If you think that Osteopathy might be the right approach for you, why not make an appointment and let us help. Sometimes trying a different approach isn’t a bad idea!
This article was originally posted on our sister location, South Yarra Osteopathic Clinic‘s blog.