What is the difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath?

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Posted on 8 April 2021

If you’re suffering from problems with your joints or muscles, you may be wondering if you need a chiropractor or an osteopath. Both types of practitioners offer valuable care, but let’s explore why a chiropractor may be a better choice for your specific needs.

What are chiropractors? Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic in Doncaster

Chiropractic care has established itself as a widely respected and recognised healthcare profession in the UK. With a history dating back to the late 20th century, chiropractic care has gained vast credibility for its expertise in spinal health and the musculoskeletal system at large. Chiropractors believe that the structure of the spine and how well it functions impacts musculoskeletal and neurological systems. A chiropractor treats any joint complex in the body based on the same theory.

Chiropractors use their hands and sometimes manual tools to relieve problems with the joints, muscles, and bones, aiming to normalise their functionality. Chiropractic care is based on the belief that spinal alignment and normal joint function allow nerve energy to flow freely which enables the body to heal itself. Focusing on special spinal adjustments, chiropractors aim to restore normal alignment to the spine and reduce or even eliminate joint, muscle and nerve pain. Chiropractors may also use various rehabilitative exercises typically employed by physiotherapists, to help patients heal as well as working with them in other areas of their lives (for example, diet and exercise programs).

To gain the title “Chiropractor” you will need to have completed a four-year degree or a postgraduate master’s course that’s recognised by the General Chiropractic Council. In order to practice, they must also be registered with the GCC. Always make sure that you visit a registered practitioner if need chiropractic care. 

What are osteopaths?

Osteopathy began back in the late 19th Century and focused on the work of the American physician Andrew Taylor Still. He saw the body as having a natural ability to recover from illness when functioning effectively. His therapy focused on allowing the body to restore itself to optimal health without the need for surgery and medicine whenever possible. Like chiropractors osteopaths detect, treat, and prevent health problems by moving, stretching, and massaging the muscles and joints in the body. However, osteopaths do not apply the specialised spinal adjustments seen in chiropractic care.

Osteopaths must undertake rigorous training to become qualified in the UK, with new practitioners expected to complete a four or five-year degree, including over 1,000 hours of hands-on clinical practice. Being educated in anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology. Osteopaths do not undergo the same rigorous training and MRI/CT scanning that chiropractors must do to earn their titles. An osteopath must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council to practice in the UK.

Chiropractors vs. osteopaths: What are the similarities? Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic in Doncaster

Many people aren’t sure whether they should visit a chiropractor or osteopath when they’re experiencing muscle or joint pain. The main reason for this confusion is that the practices share a number of similarities. Spinal health is important to both, and they share an appreciation of how spinal health can shape overall health.

Osteopaths and chiropractors use physical movements to treat pain. Joint manipulation and muscle and tissue massage are techniques used by both to achieve optimisation of the body and nervous system and improve blood flow.

You may visit a chiropractor or osteopath to receive your symptoms. However, neuroscience in recent years has proven the effectiveness and results gained from the specific type of manipulation chiropractors perform to be superior to that of osteopaths, which aim to improve general blood flow to the spine. Whereas chiropractic manipulation seeks to improve nerve flow. You may visit either a chiropractor or osteopath to relieve your symptoms. However, if you’re suffering with muscular and joint pain caused by spinal imbalance or misalignment, it is usually best to consult with a chiropractor.  Chiropractors are highly specialised in the care of spinal health and its impact on the nervous system and overall well-being of the muscular system. They undergo rigorous training to diagnose and address spinal misalignments, which can often be the underlying case of joint or muscular pain.

Chiropractors vs. osteopaths: the key difference 

The primary difference between a chiropractor and an osteopath is that the former deals with all the joints of the body whilst placing specific focus on the joints and spine. They carry out adjustments of the spinal vertebrae to treat muscle, nerve and joint pains. They aim to restore normal function to joints and other supportive tissues, whilst also assessing the patient’s condition through further investigation such as X-rays and MRI scanning.

When you visit a chiropractor, they will aim to diagnose your condition before carrying out manipulation and adjustment of the joints, muscles, bones and nerves in your body. They will aim to relieve pressure and pain without the need for surgery. Also, chiropractors also do not prescribe drugs prescribed for musculoskeletal conditions and they will be able to guide the patient in how they best reduce the use of medication as they improve by dialogue with the patient.

Should I see a chiropractor or an osteopath? 

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the differences between a chiropractor and an osteopath, you may be better able to decide which to visit when you need help with joint or muscle pain. Since a chiropractor has more specialised expertise in spinal health, it’s usually best to choose this type of practitioner. Chiropractic care uses a precise and targeted approach to address joint pain.

Chiropractors use their hands to perform specific adjustments that target the affected areas, reducing inflammation and pressure on nerves. The result is often rapid pain relief and improved joint function without the need for surgery or medications.

At Thorne Road Chiropractic, we can remedy a wide range of ailments related to the musculoskeletal system, from neck, back, and shoulder pain to persistent headaches. Our chiropractors in Doncaster have years of experience treating patients with many difficult conditions. 

Contact us 

If you’re suffering from pain related to your muscles, joints or bones, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re one of the leading chiropractic clinics in Doncaster and we have a great reputation throughout the area. Call us on 01302 969 501 to discuss your requirements with one of our friendly team. You can also send us a message via the website if you prefer and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We can answer all your questions and queries and arrange your first consultation with one of our experienced chiropractors. 

Need Help Now? Call us now to make an appointment on 01302 969 501