Osteopath vs Chiropractor: How To Choose Which Suits You Best
Some patients think that chiropractors treat bones and osteopaths treat muscles, and they choose their doctor based on that. In fact, osteopaths and chiropractors treat the same things, but have different points of view and use different treatment approaches to achieve their goals. These differences are important to potential patients, both in terms of funding and in terms of visit frequency. The explanation that I give to my patients is mainly based on two areas: the goals of the different treatment approaches and their practical application.
Osteopaths vs chiropractors
Both osteopaths and chiropractors work with their patients’ entire bodies, and because of this, many people confuse the two professions. While osteopathy and chiropractic may seem similar at first glance, they are two very different schools of thought, and each profession’s approach to pain relief and treatment is different. These are some of the differences between an osteopath and a chiropractor.
Chiropractors generally pay attention primarily to the spine, the position of the vertebrae, and any misalignment, which they call “subluxation.” These subluxations cause bone pressure on the nerves, leading to problems not only in the surrounding muscles and tissues, but also in other parts of the body. Since these subluxations are often the main cause of the patient’s symptoms, treatment aims to correct the position of these subluxations through frequent manipulation of the joints. The practical value for the patient is that treatment sessions typically last 10-15 minutes and are often visited by the patient two or three times a week for several weeks. Chiropractors in Sydney insist on a course of 12 treatments followed by monthly supportive treatments. Patients are also often advised to have an X-ray and pay for treatment upfront, so the first visit can pay a few hundred pounds.
Although displacement of the spine can be significant, osteopaths are more concerned with tissue mobility or function than with specific positional aberrations. Osteopaths use many other techniques that target the surrounding tissue and peripheral joints, and these tend to take up the majority of treatment sessions. Manipulation of the spine or joints, if used, is only part of the treatment process and is sometimes not necessary at all. There is an osteopathic maxim that says, “Find it, fix it, and leave it alone,” which is in direct contrast to regular, short, abrupt visits to the chiropractor. In practice, this means that visits to the osteopath are initially made once a week and the sessions last between 30 and 40 minutes. All patients are different, but on average 3-4 procedures are enough to achieve a significant change in symptoms. Most osteopaths would expect improvement by the sixth treatment session; otherwise, they would refer the patient to a more suitable physician, such as their GP. Supportive treatments are often recommended, but not always and can range from once a month to once every 6 months. X-rays are recommended only if pathology is suspected, and not just to determine the position of the joint.