Chiropractic versus Osteopathy versus Physiotherapy.
I am often asked what is the difference between a chiropractor, a physiotherapist and an osteopath. There is great confusion in the general public partly because chiropractors have not explained what we do very well and also because the signs and symptoms that lead people to go to a chiropractor are frequently the same as you might go and see an osteopath and a physiotherapist about.
Please bear in mind that I am only qualified in chiropractic. If you are a physiotherapist or osteopath and you feel that I have misrepresented your professions my apologies - please contact me and I will amend this article.
A chiropractor is primarily interested in the function of your nerves especially as they come out of your spine in between the vertebrae. Our job is to find these places where the bones have moved and they are interfering with the nerve function. The technical term is a vertebral subluxation. All of the chiropractic care is aimed at restoring the function of the nervous system so that your body can go back to self healing.
As I understand it the focus of osteopathic care is what's called a fixation. This is where the joints of the spine are joined together and there is lack of movement and often pain. The osteopathic techniques are aimed at releasing these fixations. This is often why osteopaths tend to do more "cracking and crunching". Having said that there is a great deal of variation in technique within chiropractic and within osteopathy. Some chiropractors use more vigorous techniques and there is popping and cracking several osteopaths use very gentile techniques and there is no cracking or popping.
Physiotherapists are primarily concerned with the function of joints for smooth operation of the joints and the movement to the muscles and ligaments around the joints. As a very general rule chiropractors are more useful when the spine is involved and physiotherapists are better at the joints in the extremity. For example I developed a problem with my ankle because I stand all day and I saw a physiotherapist to deal with that while continuing to see my chiropractor for the health of my spine.