What is the difference between an osteopath, physiotherapist and chiropractor?

Ever wondered what health professional you should see? Osteo, Physio, Chiro; aren’t they all the same? In some ways you’re not wrong, as these three health professionals share the same goal of assisting your body in its healing and getting you back to doing what you love, however each profession has their own take on how and what they treat to assist with your condition.

Similarities between professions.

Chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths have many similarities. All three professions are allied health professionalS, must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), have to have complete a minimum of four years tertiary education for their qualification in their field, are required by AHPRA to engage in further learning every year and are classed as manual therapists as they all work with there hands. However, that is where the similarities end.

Chiropractors focus on the diagnosis and correction of the body through the manipulation of the joints of your skeletal system. Manipulation of the joints is also typically known as cracking or popping (much like cracking your knuckles). Chiropractors believe body complaints originate for the nervous system of the body, thus highlighting their emphasis on manual adjustments and manipulations. Chiropractors may provide some small amount of exercise prescription to assist in retraining and strengthening areas but treatment focuses predominantly on cracking and manipulation of the body.

Physiotherapists specialise in the diagnosis and maintenance of movement in the body when experiencing painful conditions and injuries. The aim of physiotherapists is to rehabilitate & improve a person’s movement & functionality, often following an injury or surgery. Physiotherapists will utilise some hands on manual therapy like a range of soft tissue massage techniques and exercise prescription to help return your body to its pre-injury health. There is a strong focus on the muscular system in physiotherapy with focus being on strengthening and stretching. Physiotherapists are found both in public and private health care systems.

Osteopaths provide the most hands on manual therapy and utilise all the before mentioned techniques chiropractors and physiotherapists use as well as some of our own types of techniques like trigger point therapy and self management strategies and advice. Osteopaths view the body as a whole and take a holistic approach to diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions. This means osteopaths delve deeper into the injury to find the root cause and why this pain presented itself. Osteopaths assess the whole body including bones, joints, muscle, nerves and internal structures like organs, connective tissues and vascular systems. Osteopathy recognises the important link between the body’s structure & the way it functions as a whole together. Osteopaths generally work in private practice and do not require a referral to be seen; however your GP can write you a Chronic disease management plan as a referral to an osteopath to receive subsidised pricing. Treatment is also covered by most private health funds and Osteopaths will work with their patients to find the best tailor fitted management plan for your lifestyle and condition.

Although all of these allied health practitioners assist in treatment of the same conditions and presentations they all take a vastly different approach and have their own styles and types of treatment to get you back on your feet and doing what you love most.
If you think that Osteopathy might be the right approach for you, give us a call to make an appointment on 5229 5834. Our friendly osteopaths are always happy to help and assist in any way they can.

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