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What’s the Difference: Osteopath vs Chiropractor

If you’re looking into getting care and help with any back, muscle or joint pain, you may be wondering what kind of practitioner it is best to visit. Both the Osteopath and Chiropractor both believe that back and spine health is important to overall well being and the integrity of the body, but there are some fundamental differences you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing who to invest your time with.

We’ll go over these differences here, so you can understand how the two disciplines vary, and so you can make an educated decision.

First let’s look at how each discipline is defined.

What is a Chiropractor?

A Chiropractor focuses mainly on the spine and musculoskeletal system. A chiropractor believes the structure of the spine, and how your spine functions, has a large effect on the rest of your body –  including your musculoskeletal and neurological system.

Chiropractors treat their patients (who are usually experiencing pain issues, joint problems or muscle pain) by manipulating the spine and making spinal and alignment adjustments. This is done using their hands and body weight, not by using surgery.

What is an Osteopath?

An Osteopathwill help you detect, treat and prevent health issues by using a variety of techniques, including moving, stretching and massaging the patient’s body. Osteopathy is based on the belief that the health and wellbeing of a body is very dependent on their bones, joints, muscles and ligaments – and they will aim to make this work together in harmony.

Osteopaths can help with increasing the mobility of joints (especially in cases where this is limited or painful), relieving muscle tension and helping increase blood flow to problem areas.

What are the main similarities between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

A large amount of techniques do overlap between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor, and the two disciplines are often closely linked. Whilst it’s key to know the differences and which is applicable for different pain, or different problems – it’s also important to know that these two practices are very similar in their end goal and their general approach.

With both, the primary goal is to relieve pain in the body. Whether that be joint pain, muscle pain or general aching. They also both have secondary goals too – and have been known to help with addressing issues such as blood circulation, headaches, digestion, and even fertility. The areas of the body each practitioner investigates, and the positive side-effects felt afterwards tend to vary from patient to patient.

What are the main differences between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

When you’re investing time and money in receiving treatment or therapy from an Osteopath or Chiropractor, you want to be sure you’ve chosen the right pathway to health. We’ve listed out the main difference below so you can ensure you’ve chosen the right kind of therapist.

Difference 1

In terms of their focus areas, Chiropractors will spend a lot of time and a lot focus looking at the alignment of your spine. This is where they specialise and the core principle of chiropractic therapy is that healing can often be found through proper alignment. Focussing on this area will mean they pay a lot of attention to your back and posture, and will work with you to prevent any issues such as pinched nerves, trapped nerves, or anything else that could be compromising your general health. For Osteopaths, they may take a wider view of your body, and focus their attention on other areas, if that’s what they deem necessary. They will often look at the structure of your body as a whole, rather than focussed in on your spine.

Difference 2

Generally, Osteopaths will see patients for a wider spectrum of pain issues or disorders. As we mentioned earlier, both practices have plenty of secondary health goals, but Osteopaths tend to come into contact with these more. Fertility treatments are quite common with Osteopaths, but less so for Chiropractors for example. Most Chiropractors will find they’re focussed mainly on back, muscle and joint pain.

Difference 3

The tools both techniques use differ slightly too. When you attend a Chiropractor appointment, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to take an x-ray or an MRI scan. Some Chiropractors will even have x-ray machine in their office. X-rays are less common with Osteopaths, as Osteopathy will rely more on the therapists own physical examination.

Difference 4

Chiropractors will use the majority of the time to focus on the adjustments needed in your spine and alignment. However, you’ll find that during an Osteopath appointment, they may use a wider variety of techniques to manipulate and examine your body. For example, they may focus more on muscle and soft tissue work.

knee joint pain. Preventative Treatments

What Causes Joint Pain?

Joint pain is incredibly common – it’s believed that at least one in ten people will suffer from the condition at some point in their lives, with most developing joint pain as they get older. It’s also notoriously difficult to treat, since there are a wide range of different causes, all of which require specific treatment methods to alleviate the symptoms.

Joint pain can occur in any part of the body, from the shoulders, arms and hands to the ankles and feet. However, the most commonly reported form of joint pain occurs in the knee, followed by the shoulder and then hip. More often than not, this has come about as a result of an injury or accident, whereby the bones, cartilage and ligaments within a joint or the bursae, ligaments or tendons surrounding it have become damaged.

However, not all joint pain is caused by injury. Here are some of the more common and less common causes which instigate this acute or chronic affliction.

Common causes of joint pain

  • Tendonitis – caused by repetitive exercise, such as running or jumping
  • Bursitis – warmth and redness surrounding the joint, exacerbated by movement
  • Osteoarthritis – perhaps the most common cause of joint pain in older patients
  • Gout or pseudogout – pain manifests itself in sudden, repeated attacks and the affected area becomes red and inflamed
  • Hemarthrosis – bleeding into the joint space normally occurs after an injury, but can be instigated by unknown factors
  • Lupus – caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells by mistake
  • Scleroderma – caused by the immune system attacking connective tissue right beneath the skin
  • Viral infections – viral hepatitis or rubella can cause joint pain

Less common causes of joint pain

  • Osgood-Schlatter’s disease – characterised by pain and swelling in and around the knee, most commonly affecting teenagers and young adults
  • Arthritis – less common kinds of arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Rare causes of joint pain

  • Avascular necrosis – crumbling of bones caused by insufficiency of blood
  • Behçet’s syndrome – inflammation of blood vessels
  • Bone cancer
  • Haemophilia – a hereditary condition which prevents the blood from clotting normally
  • Henoch-Schönlein purpura – inflammation of blood vessels, normally affecting children
  • Sarcoidosis – the development of small amounts of tissue inside the organs
  • Septic arthritis – an excruciatingly painful and noticeably swollen joint which does not allow movement at all
  • Tropical infections

Get diagnosed

As you can see, there are a myriad of causes which can bring about joint pain, with varying levels of seriousness and commonness. While chiropractors are more generally associated with the relief of back and neck pain, it may surprise you to know that they are also adept at joint and muscle treatment and can not only provide incisive diagnoses, but also bespoke treatment plans, as well. If you’re suffering from chronic joint pain which just won’t go away, see a specialist as soon as possible.

what do Chiropractors Treat, back pain treatment

What do Chiropractors Treat?

Most people don’t know a lot about chiropractic treatment, apart from it deals with the spine. The most common mistaken belief is that chiropractors treat only back and neck pain. Nevertheless the health profession deals with the entire musculoskeletal system, which includes the whole body. Moreover, some chiropractors also claim to treat other health conditions such as asthma, IBS and infant colic.

Here at Canary Wharf Chiropractic we focus on the prevention and treatment of muscle and joint pain. Additionally, we can perform manual therapy which can improve headaches, migraines and dizziness because these are often a sign of something wrong in the spinal nervous system. Read more