Osteopathy vs. Chiropractor vs. Physiotherapist

  This article was originally published by Intrinsi.ca.

How do you know which therapy will get you the relief you are seeking quickest and most effectively? We’re here to help you decide what type of therapy is the best fit for you and help you understand what the similarities and differences are between between the professions.

Let’s start with the similarities:

  1. Osteopathic therapy, Physiotherapy and Chiropractors understand that the release of tension in joints, muscles, tethered nerves and fascia allows healing to occur.
  2. All three professions exist to help you recover from pain and injury.
  3. Osteopathic therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors all have a similar level of training, usually 4- 5 years of University.
  4. We all do hands on work. We’ve all been trained to use our hands to diagnose and treat the restrictions that are preventing your body from healing.
  5. We all give you a treatment plan so you know what to expect going forward.

Now for the differences:

  1. Osteopathic therapists work not only with the spine and joints, but with tissues, scars, fascia and fluids as well. Physiotherapists and chiropractors tend to focus more on the muscles, joints and nerves.
  2. With osteopathic therapy, there is no single protocol that is applied to all patients. Physiotherapy can be protocol driven, especially in a hospital setting, which means that there is less individual focus on the unique underlying causes of your problem. Some chiropractors perform a certain routine of adjustments no matter what the patients problem.
  3. With osteopathic therapy it doesn’t particularly matter what or where your problem is. It could be anything from a childhood injury to painful menstrual cramps or recurring headaches. What matters is the methodical way in which your osteopathic therapist addresses and removes the restrictions that are causing you a problem.
  4. Chiropractors and physiotherapists may use tools like ultrasound, graston or activators to help make adjustments. Osteopathic therapists ONLY use their hands.
  5. You may have noticed that some therapists treat more than one person within the time of your treatment. At our clinic, you get a focused, one-to-one experience. There is no multi-tasking at our clinic. Your time is your time.

Let’s look at how the same problem might be treated by the different types of therapists.

Imagine you have a shoulder injury. You play some recreational golf, and each year you get a twinge in your shoulder at the beginning of the season. You’d like to play golf pain-free and you’d like the pain dealt with once and for all.

You try physiotherapy...

  • Your treatment time will vary from 15 minutes to 1hour
  • The physiotherapist assesses your shoulder using standard orthopedic tests this will help them form an opinion on what tissue is injured. In the shoulder it is most commonly the rotator cuff muscles. They may then choose to look at more sports specifc movements in golf, but also they may look at some more every day movements like putting on your jacket to see how the pain is affecting your everyday life.
  • The physiotherapist will then use specific techniques to help the muscle heal, these include, but are not limited to soft tissue work, IMS, Ultrasound and joint mobilizations.
  • The physiotherapist will then most likely give you specific exercises to increase strength to any weakened muscles of your shoulder and begin to build pain free functional and golf specific movements back into your every day routines.
  • The physiotherapist will build a treatment routine for you based on your individual needs, this may vary for example it might be twice a week for 4 weeks or once a week for 6 weeks.

You try chiropractic care...

  • Your treatment time will vary from 10 to 60 minutes for your first appointment, and last for about 5-15 minutes in subsequent sessions.
  • Like the physiotherapist, the chiropractor might assess your shoulder using some standard orthopedic tests. The tests might also include an assessment of your spine, often using xrays.
  • The chiropractor will be looking at the parts of your spine where the nerves to the shoulder come out, checking for what is called a subluxation. From the chiropractic perspective, the spine can become minutely out of alignment, and the resulting subluxations inhibit nerve flow, which can cause joints to become injured.
  • Treatment will probably involve manipulating your spine to free up the nerves so that they can control your shoulder better.
  • You are probably asked to come back two to three times a week for three weeks. You will then slowly decrease the frequency of your treatments until you are on
  • some sort of monthly maintenance program to check for general subluxations.

You try osteopathic therapy…

  • Your first treatment lasts one hour. Subsequent treatments last 30 – 45 minutes.
  • The osteopathic therapist assess your shoulder to find out which areas are damaged.
  • They then assess your spine to see if the nerves to your shoulder are compromised. In this way we are similar to a chiropractor.
  • They assess the quality of movement around some of your internal organs pertinent to your shoulder, including your lungs, liver and gall bladder. Amazingly the liver and gall bladder can both cause shoulder pain via a miscommunication in the spine that has an overlap in nerve feedback from both the shoulder and these organs.
  • They assess other joints that work in conjunction with your shoulder, especially your wrists, elbows, neck and hips.
  • Similar to the physiotherapist they might even choose to look at movement patterns. For example, at Intrinsi we would ask you to demonstrate your golf swing technique to see if any restrictions in your hips or neck are placing too much work on your shoulder.

Your treatment with and Osteopathic Therapist is strictly hands-on.

  • The hands of an osteopathic therapist are more sensitive and knowledgeable than any type of machine. Intrinsi doesn’t use ultrasound or any other machine to help us understand what’s going on.
  • We find we get the best results by keeping the treatment to the work of our trained hands.
  • We are trained to do s joint movements and massage techniques.
  • We also know how to use our hands in a very subtle way to gently free restrictions around organs and other deep body structures to restore health to your body as a whole.

Your course of treatments with osteopathic therapy

  • We will ask you back in one or two weeks for a 30 – 45 minute treatment in which you will receive undivided one on one care in your own treatment room at our beautiful clinic.
  • Our statistics show that with as little as 5 treatments we help 90% of our clients get significant relief from pain and injury.

Our promise to you:

In the past, you may have had less than pleasant health care experiences . . . At Intrinsi, we do our best to make sure you feel respected and genuinely cared for.

In the past, you may have had to wait for ages for a rushed five-minute appointment . . . We pride ourselves on being prompt. If we are late, it probably won’t be by more than a few minutes.

In the past, you may have been given a diagnosis with no explanation of what caused the problem . . . Our therapists are trained to understand and explain the link between the cause of your problem and the symptoms your are experiencing. They are experts in the field of the human body with extensive training at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level — and they have great bed-side manner.

In the past, you may not have received support for ongoing health . . . We will clearly suggest a treatment plan so you know what to expect going forward. We will make sure this is a reasonable plan which can fit into your busy life. Once your problematic symptoms have been relieved we will also discuss a plan for prevention – to keep your old symptoms from reoccurring.

In the past, you may not have felt welcome . . . We help everyone: healthy and injured, wealthy and not, young and old. You are indeed welcome.

Learn more by checking out our Osteopathy Blog and Chiropractic Blog.

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