What is the difference between chiropractic, osteopathy and physiotherapy, how do you decide what is best for you?

Here are the definitions as given by the respective official organizations:

Chiropractic

(As defined by the General Chiropractic Council)

Chiropractic is a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints and muscles), and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal adjustment and other joint and soft-tissue manipulation.

Chiropractors have a specialist interest in neck and back pain but when they assess their patient they take their entire physical, emotional and social wellbeing into account.

Chiropractors use a range of techniques to reduce pain, improve function and increase mobility, with an emphasis on hands-on manipulation of the spine.

They may also offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, and rehabilitation programmes that involve exercises to do in your own time. Some chiropractors may also offer other treatments, such as acupuncture.

Osteopathy

(As defined by the General Osteopathic Council)

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well. So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery. Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.

Physiotherapy

(As defined by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy)

Physiotherapy helps restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability. It is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle.

At the core is the patient’s involvement in their own care, through education, awareness, empowerment and participation in their treatment.

Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.

The profession helps to encourage development and facilitate recovery, enabling people to stay in work while helping them to remain independent for as long as possible.

Physiotherapists work in a variety of specialisms in health and social care. Additionally, some physiotherapists are involved in education, research and service management.

And what do we do?

The purpose of the treatment is to reduce pain and restore movement. As a qualified chiropractor and trained in various methods for soft tissue work and joint mobilization, I use these techniques in the way best suited to each individual case.

The gentle, versatile and dexterous chiropractic adjustments are central to our treatment, but quite often their effect can be enhanced by releasing tension in specific muscles and tissues. The aim is always to achieve maximum improvement to the customer’s well-being.

We investigate into the cause of the problem and discuss appropriate measures to eliminate or at least minimise the causes. The proposed measures vary greatly and include for example simple adjustments in the way you sit at work or in your car, or to the position you sleep in. We often introduce exercises, because they can be very effective in preventing the problems from recurring. But they must be tailored to the specific needs and the patient must be able to accommodate them in their daily life. Exercises only help if you actually do them regularly.

I am quite happy to suggest alternative treatment methods if they promise to improve your well-being. Many conditions have several contributing factors, and different health care providers may be better equipped to help with some of these factors.