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Difference between chiro, physio and osteo

Physiotherapist’s aim to restore function of muscles through massage therapy and will mainly prescribe rehabilitation exercises or use tape to strengthen and retrain muscles. Osteopath’s use mobilisations of joints and may massage muscles if necessary. Osteopath’s focus on the circulatory and lymphatic system as they aim to increase blood flow so the body can heal quicker.

While all 3 professions can cross over and vary between the individual practitioners. A crude, yet easy way to think of the difference between the 3 are:

Chiropractors = SPINE, whole-body approach and MANIPULATION
Physiotherapists = REHAB, massage, taping & EXERCISES
Osteopaths = MASSAGE, exercises & joint MOBILISATION/manipulation

What is chiropractic?

In Australia chiropractor’s must undertake a minimum of 5 years study to be a registered chiropractor under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Many graduating with a masters or double degree in health science and chiropractic. Chiropractor’s are recognised doctors in their field.Chiropractic is a natural alternative medicine that has been successful for hundreds of years with its main purpose to treat musculoskeletal conditions by treating the central nervous system.

What is the aim of chiropractic treatment and what treatment do chiropractor’s conduct?

Chiropractors predominantly perform hand held manual adjustments of the spine which are conducted by experienced chiropractors, It is a quick thrust used to treat spinal dysfunction. Other Low force techniques may also be used such as a drop piece technique, activator and blocking. The drop piece technique is also conducted manually by the chiropractor’s hands. The Drop Piece allows the chiropractic table predominantly to endure most of the force of the adjustment. The activator is a small hand-held spring-loaded instrument conducted on the spine. Block’s may also be used this allows the patient to lay on the table, as wedge shaped blocks are carefully placed under the pelvis to realign the patient’s pelvis and possibly even up patient’s leg length. Chiropractor’s may also prescribe rehabilitation exercises to strengthen weakened muscles. Chiropractor’s often provide ergonomic advice to ensure that patients can prevent spinal dysfunction such as encouraging patients to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs to allow the spine to be on a healthy position.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapist’s are also governed by (AHPRA) and must study for a minimum of 4 years to be able to register as a physiotherapist in Australia, with many working in hospitals. Physiotherapist’s may specialist in a range of areas such as sports, orthopaedic, musculoskeletal, cancer, palliative care and standalone practices.Physiotherapist’s predominantly treat musculoskeletal conditions with the aim is to help aid an individual’s recovery from injuries whether they be muscular/ligament tears or bone breaks by lessening the time of recovery post-surgery. Physiotherapist’s also prevent injury by reducing joint stiffness and prescribing rehabilitation exercises to strengthen weakened muscles to ultimately prevent future injury.

What type of treatment do physiotherapist’s conduct?

Physiotherapy’s purpose is to address illness/injuries that are debilitating and ultimately aim to improve a person’s quality of life. Physiotherapist’s tailor treatment to the specific individuals, such treatments utilised may include an exercise programs, which is strengthening or stretching muscles or cardiovascular training, even massaging tight muscles or using trigger point therapy techniques. Physiotherapists are also qualified to use manual therapies and mobilisation techniques of the spine and joints although physiotherapists don’t commonly manually adjust and that’s something chiropractor’s usually do. Electrotherapy techniques to electrically stimulate nerves or ultrasound may also be used if deemed necessary.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopath’s are also administered by AHPRA and in Australia Osteopaths must study a minimum of 5 years to be registered, graduating with a double degree or master’s similarly to chiropractic. Osteopathy is another form of hands on natural medicine that’s objective is to improve health by manipulating and strengthening joints, muscles and the spine. An osteopathic physician elects a gentle hands on approach and treatment is applicable for adults of all ages. Osteopathy using a range of manual mobilisations and techniques to balance the body and improve a person’s quality of life and wellbeing. Unlike chiropractic and physiotherapy, Osteopathy emphasises on the improvement of circulation around the body.

What type of treatment do osteopaths conduct?

Osteopath’s use an array of techniques such as gentle manipulation, stretching muscles, articulation which is gentle rhythmic joint movements, muscle energy techniques, and resistance techniques to treat the body as a whole. Similar to chiropractic osteopathy focuses on aligning the musculoskeletal system, however osteopath’s believe that the inhibition of the circulatory and lymphatic system may reduce the speed and effectiveness which the body has to heal, therefore they aim to increase blood flow.. Similar to physiotherapist’s osteopath’s are qualified to manually manipulate the spine but it is uncommon practice and usually something chiropractor’s do, instead osteopath’s will gently mobilise joints and the spine. Just like Chiropractors and physiotherapists an osteopath may offer ergonomic advice to patient’s to prevent future injuries and may prescribe muscle rehabilitation exercises.