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Chiropractic vs Osteopathy - The Difference

checking backChiropractic care and osteopathy are both manual therapies that aim to improve body function through musculoskeletal assessment and adjustment. When traditional medicine isn’t cutting it, many people look at alternative methods of care and treatment. Most people searching for a chiro or osteopath are looking to alleviate aches, pains, and discomforts they may be feeling. While optimal function and relief is the goal, the two professions do differ in their approach, techniques, and overall philosophies.

We’ll be looking at defining what a chiropractor and osteopath are. After that, we’ll compare the differences and similarities between the practices. Lastly, we discuss the circumstances where a doctor of chiropractic is the best option versus when an osteopath is better.

We have to begin by saying that the Papakura Chiropractic team greatly respects the osteopathic profession. After all, we are trying to achieve the same or similar goals for our patients despite using slightly different techniques. We encourage you to read on and learn about what these professions are and how treatment can benefit you.

What Is A Chiropractor?

Chiropractic treatment is primarily focused on the nervous system functioning as optimally as possible to improve wellness and reduce pain. Our nervous system is made up of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral is made up of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord into the rest of the body.

Chiropractic treatment focuses on spinal manipulation to ensure that the nervous system’s “information highway” is not impeded by abnormalities. Chiropractic adjustment and assessments aim to discover any irregularities of your bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Ultimately, your musculoskeletal and nervous systems are the primary focus of chiropractic services‘ goal in improving your overall well-being.

In New Zealand, in order to legally practice natural chiropractic, you must be registered and hold a valid annual certificate. The New Zealand Chiropractic Board is in charge of assigning registration to candidates that meet the criteria. For an NZ-trained chiropractor, part of the criteria is having completed a degree at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic.

What Is An Osteopath?

Similar to a chiropractor, an osteopath also recognises the important link between body structure and the way it functions. An osteopath will use a variety of manual manipulation techniques to help correct any abnormal physical conditions. This includes things such as neck and back pain, headaches, bone injuries, joints and muscles, and many other physical problems.

Part of the work of osteopaths includes diagnosis, treatment, and preventative work in regard to physical abnormalities and conditions. Treatment techniques include craniosacral therapy, muscle energy technique, and manipulation of joints and soft tissues.

In NZ, the practice is regulated and a practitioner must be registered with the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand (OCNZ). To qualify as an osteopath, trainees will need to complete a minimum of 4 years of training through post-graduate study.

The Similarities

Both practices aim to relieve pain through manual manipulation and treatments. Many of the reasons why people will visit an osteopath or chiropractic office can be the same. For example, you may be searching for a chiropractor for headaches and migraines or a chiropractor for shoulder pain. Meanwhile, an osteopath will also offer treatment based on the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Your lifestyle or circumstances can also be similar when you are searching for a good chiropractor or osteopath. Maybe you are interested in improving sports performance, seeking quicker recovery from injury or chronic pain, or going through pregnancy. Specifically, both a pregnancy chiropractor and osteopath aim to support mum and baby through a successful pregnancy. The same will be said about improving athletic performance and ensuring your body is in optimum shape.

Another thing they have in common is that both osteopathic and chiropractic therapy are services covered by ACC. Depending on your case and preference, you can choose to go to an osteopath or ACC chiropractor. You should always check with your osteopath or ACC chiropractor regarding your coverage eligibility.

Both services are also covered by some insurance providers. Although, it is your responsibility to check eligibility prior to receiving treatment.

The Differences

Now, you’ve read about the treatments you can expect when you visit an osteopath and chiropractic centre. There are also many similarities between the professions. The question now is, what is the difference between the best osteopathic and best chiropractor services?

The main differences are the techniques used and the treatment area in focus.

Osteopaths will primarily focus on ligament and muscle mobilisation. Soft-tissue mobilisation is a form of hands-on physical therapy used to break adhesions for quicker recovery and muscle function. These treatments can be unrelated to the spine or joints. While osteopathy treatments cover your body from head to toe, natural chiropractic will focus primarily on spinal subluxations impeding the flow of the body’s nervous system.

The techniques used by an osteopath will also differ from that of a chiro. An osteopath will use a gentler form of manipulation done by hand. A chiropractic practice will generally have more instruments used for treatment as well as table-assisted methods.

Who Should You Visit?

This is dependent on what ails you. If you are experiencing muscle-related pain, an osteopath may be better suited. On the other hand, a spine adjustment should be performed by a top chiropractor to ensure safety standards are met.

There is no comparable study to suggest one treatment is better than the other. Therefore, it comes down to personal choice as to what works best for you.

In fact, there is no reason you can’t seek treatment for both in conjunction. You should relay all treatment information to both parties to ensure they create a plan best tailored to your needs.

If you would like an initial consultation we’re a local chiropractor South Auckland based providing comprehensive assessment and care. Full-body assessments can include a chiropractor X ray when necessary.

Yes, the majority of patients are locals seeking either a Papakura chiropractor, Takanini, or a chiropractor Manukau based, for example. However, we’ve established a good reputation as a chiropractor South Auckland based with people from the wider Auckland area visiting.