Have you experienced pain related to your muscles, ligaments or bones? If you have, chances are you’ve been introduced to various health professionals like chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists that work with you to reduce pain and help guide your body back to health.
Despite being accessible to most the Australian population, many people don’t seek help from any of them. Apart from financial or time constraints, a common reluctance to access these health services is because of a lack of knowledge about what each profession specialises in and which would be most suitable for their issue.
Let’s break down the differences between a chiropractor, osteopath and physiotherapist so you can make the best decision for your health.
Chiropractors focus on the diagnosis, correction and prevention of the musculoskeletal system. The profession is based on the belief that spinal adjustment can improve or resolve a range of health conditions, by finding and correcting the maligned spinal segments and unblocking impaired nervous system flow that was causing the issue.
Chiropractors use different techniques to reduce pain and improve body function such as ice/heat, massage, ultrasound and acupuncture.
The emphasis is on reducing the effects, and maintaining maximal function of the nervous system.
An osteopath focuses on the entire body rather than the specific injured area. They are a branch of primary healthcare practitioners that can recognise conditions that require medical referral, and are trained to perform examinations of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems.
A whole body assessment including your skeleton, joints, nerves, muscles, circulatory system, connective tissue and internal organs is undertaken and measured in the management of the issue. Osteopaths can use their hands to apply manual therapy to help reduce symptoms, and suggest other methods such as orthopaedic and neurological testing, dietary advice and exercise prescription.
Physiotherapists focus on maintaining and restoring movement. They use their knowledge of optimal and suboptimal human movement to guide a person in their rehabilitation, either from an injury, surgical procedure or physical disability. Physiotherapists work with a range of issues including sport injuries, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and cystic fibrosis.
Through consultation and clinical diagnosis, physiotherapists apply manual or adjunct therapies and prescribe exercises to support the body through the healing process.
What’s the best option for you?
Whether you choose a physiotherapeutic, chiropractic or osteopathic approach – it’s best that your chosen health practitioner operates with methods that have been proven through scientific research. This prevents further harming your issue, or creating more issues due to malpractice. Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is that your practitioner is someone that above all, empowers you to look after your own body. Whether it’s by teaching you strategies to deal with pain, or techniques to avoid future injury, your health practitioner should be knowledgeable and genuine in their approach to improving and managing your health.