Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist: who should I see?

There’s a nagging pain in your back or a twinge in your neck and you feel you need some treatment but it’s difficult to know which type of treatment to choose.

There seem to be similarities between chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists so how would you know which treatment is best for you?

Here we try and clear up the confusion between the different professions.

What is the difference between the three treatments?

Chiropractors are more ‘joint specific’ than the other two professions. The approach being that if a joint, particularly in the spine, is locked then it needs to be freed. They use manipulation to help move the joint, restoring mobility, and so improving flexibility and reduce pain.
Manipulation is also utilised by osteopaths and physiotherapists, but the approach is slightly different.

An osteopath will look more at the muscles and how that affects joint mobility. Restoring muscle function will improve joint mobility and so improve flexibility and reduce pain.

Osteopaths are more likely to manipulate your neck or back by ‘cracking’ it. This is where synovial fluid sits within the joint capsule and its role is to lubricate the joint so that the facet joints can move smoothly without getting stuck on each other. During an osteopathic manipulation, it is the movement of these facet joints that causes the audible ‘pop’ or ‘crack’.

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