If you’re experiencing pain in your body, especially musculoskeletal pain, you may be thinking it’s time to work with a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.
Whilst a jammed-up neck, shoulder or back, or painful knee or hip might have you reaching for your phone to book an appointment with someone, how do you know which modality is right for you?
Let’s explore each of these below to help you make your choice.
- A chiropractor focuses mainly on treating issues related to joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves and most importantly, the spine.
- Their primary form of therapy is to provide corrective manual adjustments to misaligned vertebrae (called a subluxation), which would otherwise negatively influence nerve transmission and consequently the health of the affected tissue.
- In doing this, chiropractors work toward optimal alignment of the spine, relieving pain and dysfunction in the process.
- Due to working with the spine and nervous system, which instruct all organs and systems, they may also work more broadly than bones, joints and soft tissue; examining the body holistically and working towards its optimum function.
- This modality often employs diagnostic devices such as x-rays and scans to gain insight into the health of the spine at baseline and to track treatment progress.
- Appointments with a chiropractor tend to be shorter and therefore more frequent.
Chiropractors work toward optimal alignment of the spine, relieving pain and dysfunction in the process.
- Osteopathy is also a holistic manual therapy, which normally diagnoses, treats and prevents musculoskeletal disorders relating to your bones, muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments.
- However, in this process, they’re interested in the interconnected nature of your body, looking at how other related joints or organs (e.g. shoulder or hip) may be impacting your presenting pain (e.g. knee).
- Osteopaths also use spinal and joint manipulation, which is generally more subtle than a chiropractic adjustment, as well as stretching and soft tissue manipulation, as their mainstay treatments.
- Additionally, they have extensive training in palpation, able to glean information from physically examining and assessing the problem area/s of your body (rather than requiring medical imaging or observing with sight alone).
- Overall, whilst osteopathy assesses and addresses the structural and mechanical issues within your body, it aims to restore the whole body back to state of balance.
Whilst osteopathy assesses and addresses the structural and mechanical issues within your body, it aims to restore the whole body back to state of balance.
- A physiotherapist’s primary aim is to treat issues affecting your movement, with the aim to correct or improve a person’s capacity to move and function again.
- To do this, they largely focus on your main problem area (e.g. neck, back or knee), and create a treatment specific to that area, rather than viewing the whole body.
- Within a session, they use hands on therapies such as joint manipulation and massage to address your complaint, but also undertake observations to diagnose and monitor you, and can employ additional therapies such as electrotherapy and hydrotherapy.
- A mainstay facet of physiotherapy is the prescription of exercise regimes to manage and treat your injury.
- This modality also works in rehabilitation settings to assist optimum movement in people who may be recovering from surgery, or who have a chronic condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological conditions (e.g. stroke) or respiratory issues.
A physiotherapist’s primary aim is to treat issues affecting your movement, with the aim to correct or improve a person’s capacity to move and function again.
Which Will You Choose?
It’s important to remember that while the information above works to differentiate each modality, there are many similarities across each, and each Practitioner offers their own unique skillset. Generally speaking, a chiropractor will look at your presentation from the perspective of your spine and what adjustments it may require, an osteopath will also use manipulation and soft tissue interventions to holistically address your pain, and physiotherapists will focus their treatment avenues more specifically on the area of concern, normally prescribing exercises as a part of your treatment.
All of these modalities will be able to discuss and suggest specific herbal and nutritional medicines which may assist in reducing pain and inflammation, such as turmeric, magnesium or omega-3. However, if your pain is part of a larger health picture, relating to a chronic condition such as fibromyalgia, autoimmunity or metabolic diseases, speak to a Practitioner such as a Naturopath. Working alongside your manual therapist, a Naturopath will be able to support the underlying drivers of your presentation, which in combination, is a truly holistic approach to having you pain free and feeling more vital, sooner!