Chiropractor vs Osteopath – How to choose the right practitioner for you?
Many people have heard about chiropractors and osteopaths and they can be confused about the benefit of one to the other.
It can be difficult to choose which one is better or if there is actually a difference between the two professions. We wrote a blog called Osteopathy vs Physiotherapy (Article here), and we highlighted the difference between both professions. However chiropractors and osteopaths can be really similar in many ways.
Historically each profession have different philosophies which bring different ways of practicing in their own clinical settings.
Before talking about the difference, let’s talk about the similarities:
Chiropractors and Osteopaths are both Allied Health Professionals registered through APHRA, the Australian Health Practitioners Agency.
Both practitioners have to have a university degree to be able to practice in Australia.
And both practitioners use spinal manipulations as a technique to support your health.
What is the difference between a Chiropractor and an Osteopath?
While Chiropractors focus their attention on disorders of the musculoskeletal system (spine) (More info here), Osteopaths focus their practise on the neuromusculoskeletal system (bones, spine, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves and tendons) and use a holistic approach to health (More info here)
It could be thought that Osteopathy offers more advantages compared with the chiropractic approach. But it is not true. Many chiropractors provide exercise program, pain management plan and do more than spinal manipulations for their patient. As science has evolved, more and more research has shown that practitioners, regardless of their professions, should adopt a biopsychosocial approach to health for patients who are suffering from pain.
This approach means that now we understand that our biology cannot be separated from our emotions and our social environments. And it is now encouraged that practitioners adopt this model of care.
Are Chiropractors better than Osteopaths – or vice-versa?
As I’ve mentioned previously in the article Physiotherapist vs Osteopath, who is better?
And it is the same answer regarding Chiropractors and Osteopaths; No one is better. You cannot judge an entire profession on individual basis.
Everyone is different and everyone will connect with different practitioners. There are many different chiropractors, in terms of practice and approach, and this is the same with osteopaths. Some will focus their attention on paediatrics, women’s health, sports injuries, elderly conditions, pain management, and so forth.
So every individual will have a different type of specialised training or philosophy. Both professions are qualified to assist with injury rehabilitation, however for chronic illness and disease, typically a patient needs a pain management plan and evidence-based approach for their conditions. Which often includes some exercises, education about pain, lifestyle changes, and more.
Are you wondering what the best option is for your problem? Don’t focus on the profession but ask instead:
- Who takes the time to listen to my problem?
- Who helps me to find strategies that fit my lifestyle and my needs?
- Who offers sustainable solutions that help you to get out of the cycle of pain?
- Who is motivating you to be the best version of yourself and helping you overcome the challenges ahead?
As an Osteopath myself, I’m not against any profession at all. I think of other Chiropractors and Physiotherapists as colleagues who do (like myself) their best to help people with pain. Because we know that pain is complex and it is not an easy task to tackle for many healthcare professionals.
There are some fantastic Chiropractor researchers such as Dr Greg Lehman and Dr Peter Stillwess, incredible physiotherapist such as Dr Dave Moen and Dr David Butler and awesome Osteopaths such as Dr Oliver Thomson or Dr Alison Sim. I’m inspired by much of their work.
That’s why it is important for you to be confident with your choice. To choose someone (not a profession) who is helping you achieve change for the long term, and not just focus on the symptoms.